Why the Pelicans are not screwed

By Ari McCoy ’17

The Deal:

Sacramento Kings trade: Demarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi

New Orleans Pelicans trade: Guard Buddy Hield, ‎guard Tyreke Evans, guard Langston Galloway, New Orleans’ 2017 first-round pick and 2017 second-round pick (via the Sixers)

Background: The New Orleans Pelicans caught the NBA by surprise when they traded for All-Star center Demarcus Cousins from the Kings. Cousins’ name has been a mainstay in the NBA trade rumors for years, due to the instability of the Sacramento management and the immense projected haul. The Pelicans, however, have never been a projected suitor due to their lack of quality assets and publicly known interest. With a management team known for an aggressive win-now strategy, New Orleans pulled the trigger and appeared to steal away the All-NBA big. Giving up only one first round pick, one second round pick, and a few players, including struggling rookie Buddy Hield and former King Tyreke Evans, the NBA world was stunned at the lack of assets. But in the games since the trade, the team has struggled, going 0-3 before Cousins picked up a one game suspension due to being well past the league’s technical maximum. Many people are already beginning to say that the trade is a bust for NOLA. This is an overreaction.

Why NOLA shouldn’t worry yet: It’s been three games everyone, let’s relax. The team has struggled, going 0-3. In those three games, Cousins has averaged 23.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 3.7 steals and 1.3 blocks. In one of those games he only played 21 minutes against an OKC team with one of the league’s better defensive centers in Steven Adams. In that game, Cousins registered a dominant stat line of 31 points and 10 rebounds, including going 15-15 from the free throw line, before fouling out. So while the team has struggled to win games, Cousins isn’t necessarily the issue. His star front court partner, Anthony Davis, has excelled next to him, scoring 29, 39 and 38 points in each game since the trade. The real focus should be on the dearth of talent around the star studded frontcourt. Point guard Jrue Holiday was once a good player, but injuries have made him less athletic and have created significant rust. Wings Solomon Hill and Hollis Thompson are both one dimensional players. Hill is a net zero player offensively, and Thompson doesn’t provide much more than his shooting as a spot up wing. The bench is devoid of talent, supported by borderline rotation and a few D League caliber players. It is understandable why this team went 0-3 versus three good teams.

Conclusion: While the team does have two star players in the frontcourt, they can’t be expected to be a dominant team, or even much better than a .500 team, with a supporting cast like this.

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