Earlier today, the breaking news of the Sacramento Kings trading three-time all-star DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans sent shock-waves around the NBA.
The thought of a Pelicans team led by DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis sneaking into the eighth seed to take on Golden State in the first round instantly came to mind.
The Kings received Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and the Pelicans’ 2017 first round pick, as well as a future second round pick. The Pelicans will also receive Omri Casspi from the Kings.
The strategy from the Kings is clear. Tank away the 2017 season, and load up on young guards and draft picks to build for the future. Tyreke Evans has all-star potential when healthy, and Buddy Hield is a highly-touted sharp shooter in his first season.
For New Orleans, it is clear that they have no intentions on wasting the best years of Anthony Davis’ career, forming a big three of Davis, Cousins and Jrue Holiday.
The Pelicans have a good blend of role players to accompany their big three, led by Tim Frazier, Omar Asik and Terrence Jones, who is finally healthy.
What is yet to be seen is how Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will play together. They were teammates at Kentucky before they entered the NBA, but neither has played with another big man of their abilities since joining the league.
The intriguing thing about the trade is that the Pelicans’ size and length could cause Golden State some issues. The Warriors biggest weakness is rebounding, and that could be exploited by the Pelicans.
At this stage, New Orleans probably does not have enough depth to defeat a healthy Warriors squad over a seven-game series, but if they are able to sneak into seventh in the west, they match up very well with the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs struggle with young athletic teams, and were eliminated in convincing fashion by the Thunder in last season’s playoffs.
The ability of Holiday and Davis to run the floor, combined with Cousins dominance inside would trouble the slower Spurs front court of Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard would be negated slightly, as he would be too small to match up with either Cousins or Davis, forcing him to defend the Pelicans third or fourth scoring option.
Defensively, the size of New Orleans could trouble the Spurs. Davis is a known shot blocker, and one of the best defenders in the NBA, while Cousins has the length and physicality to bother the likes of Pau Gasol in the low-post.
This trade has certainly changed the landscape of the NBA for now. Both Davis and Cousins are on long-term contracts, so this could be a duo that has time to learn each other’s craft and adapt to be one of the scariest in the NBA.
As for the 2017 season, they are probably one or two trades away from being genuine contenders. That said, they are a scary proposition for any team over the course of a seven-game series.