The lethargic Pelicans continue to underachieve

Jay Croucher Columnist

By Jay Croucher, Jay Croucher is a Roar Expert

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    Yesterday in Minnesota, DeMarcus Cousins was equal parts mesmerising and brutal, the improbable mix of his balletic footwork and towering, rampaging physicality shining through.

    He gets the ball in semi-transition, strides up court modestly but with the vague hint of almost boyish excitement, and then goes to work, barrelling his way to the rim with momentous twirls, laying the ball in over Gorgui Dieng, made to look and surely feel utterly powerless.

    And yet, there is the other Cousins, the Cousins that looks completely uninterested and detached, emotionally removed from the game after Aaron Brooks of all people has managed to get in his head. He doesn’t box out and he never runs back in transition, floating in a useless nowhere region of the court, as his man Karl-Anthony Towns charges unimpeded towards the offensive glass for the easiest put-back dunk of his life.

    Cousins’ apathy is infectious. When someone is that good, and that much of a focal point, their personality becomes the team’s personality.

    And right now, the Pelicans are Cousins’ team. He takes the most shots, uses the most possessions and has the majority of the offence run through him. His reactions are the ones that the crowd and the commentators react to. Anthony Davis is the best player on the Pelicans, but this is not Anthony Davis’ team.

    But then again, even before Cousins got there it never really felt like Davis’ team. What does an Anthony Davis team look or feel like aside from Anthony Davis scoring a tonne of points?

    Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans

    (Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons)

    Davis has never found a way to elevate his teammates. His supporting casts have always been weak, but at the same time, he’s shared the court in recent years with Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, James Ennis, Ish Smith and Austin Rivers – all competent, ranging to excellent, NBA players who all got better when they left Davis.

    AD is a superstar, but one who exists in his own universe on the court. He does what he does, and makes his teams better by the sheer force of his brilliance. But teammates are only left in awe of his talents, not made greater by them.

    Yesterday’s game in Minnesota was, or should have been, a statement game for New Orleans. They’d had two days rest, coming up against a battered Timberwolves team on a back-to-back and their fifth game in seven nights. It was the Wolves, though, who came out energised, with plenty of life and plenty to prove.

    Anthony Davis took the first shot of the game then didn’t register another stat for almost six minutes. No points, shots, free throws, assists, blocks, rebounds or turnovers. Statistical silence. A superstar made completely anonymous for half a quarter. By the time Davis had woken up, the Pelicans were down eight. They would never get closer than six, a 21-point halftime lead blowing out to 34 before settling at 18.

    The game was lost in the first quarter, though, and when the tone was being set, Davis was hushed, taking a backseat to Cousins and Cousins’ scowls, the preface to another abject defeat for a franchise and a once hopeful era now defined by them.

    Jay Croucher
    Jay Croucher

    From MSG in New York to the MCG in Melbourne, Jay has spent his adult life travelling the world, indulging in sport and approaching it from the angle of history and pop culture. Follow him on Twitter @CroucherJD

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • January 8th 2018 @ 10:13pm
      Swampy said | January 8th 2018 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

      Bleak.

    • January 9th 2018 @ 9:15am
      joe said | January 9th 2018 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      I don’t know if they are underachieving, the Pelicans season win total was 39.5 or 40 depending where you wanted to wager on it.Basically a slightly below .500 team that was expected to finish in the 7,8 or 9 seed in the West.
      Right now they’re 19-19 so right on course with whats expected.
      Cousins is what he is.The book has been written on him.A talented malcontent who occasionally gives awesome effort but no consistency whatsoever.
      You’re right about Davis,hasn’t lived up to potential but a lot of those Kentucky guys coming out of Calipari’s production line were overhyped & underperform in the NBA.
      Davis,Cousins,Rose, Wall,Tyreke Evans etc etc.All highly touted players who’ve not even made a Finals appearance let alone actually win anything.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 6:36am
      Swampy said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      Umm overhyped??? To be fair, aside from Evans, each of those players will likely end up in the HOF. Rose was clearly derailed by injury and refusal to adapt his game post injury but he did win an mvp. Personally I don’t think he should make the HOF but I have no doubt he will.

      Measuring player’s success by championships is a murky area. John Stockton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing all locked in HOFers that never won a championship.

    • January 16th 2018 @ 11:11am
      joe said | January 16th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

      Cousins puts up good numbers,no doubt about that.He is talented but his numbers don’t translate to wins or him making other players around him better.Im not talking about necessarily winning championships,but win a playoff series!

      John Wall has been in the league for 5 or 6 year ,same.with Cousins,Davis for about 4 years i think.
      Win an opening round series.I think between them they have maybe 2 playoff series wins.
      Forget about championships,can someone from Calipari’s Kentucky system who comes into the league overhyped make a Conference Finals? Just get to that for starters.
      This column is about New Orleans not living up to expectations.They’re exceeding them.
      They weren’t expected to be much better than a .500 team. So far they are ahead of pace.I hope they do well i think it would be great to see the Davis/Cousins combination make a playoff run.They should get in barring major injuries. Lets see what they can do once that happens.

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