New Orleans Pelicans have made the biggest steal of the NBA in a year Golden State Warriors landed Kevin Durant to play alongside its triumvirate of All Stars. The Pelicans also top Milwaukee Bucks who drafted Malcolm Brogdon 36th overall in last season’s Draft which is a huge achievement considering the magnitude of alteration and altering the landscape of both teams and indeed the league as a whole.
Warriors nabbing Durant has created the NBA’s first foursome super team that trumps Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls with Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and LeBron James’s Miami Heat side that featured superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Only time will tell how brilliant a master stroke the Bucks struck by drafting Brogdon.
Rounding up preparations for the final leg of the annual midseason festivities a.k.a All Star Game, word seeped through Sacramento Kings DeMarcus Cousins has been traded alongside Omri Casspi to New Orleans for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and future draft picks. Looking at the elements in the trade, this is easily the most lopsided deal in recent times.
Exchanging a multiple All Star, still with great room for improvement despite averaging 27.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the season, for an inconsistent rookie in Hield, backup Point Guard in Galloway and a forlorn returnee in Evans, absolutely makes little sense.
However, anyone who has followed the Kings since the mid 2000’s, knows there is nothing positively predictable about NBA’s franchise in California’s State capital.
This is after all a team that drafted Isaiah Thomas developed him and let him walk to greener pastures in Boston after transiting through Phoenix. This is a team that drafted two Centers last year despite needing a Point Guard and Shooting Guard. So when a package like the one mentioned above for Cousins comes along, it is hardly a surprise they picked it up. For New Orleans, this move pushes it right into contention for the playoffs as its revamped roster (let’s not forget Casspi’s influence should he see minutes on the floor) has two of the best big men in the league and one of the solid floor generals in Jrue Holiday.
The latter is yet to replicate his sparkling form in Philadelphia that earned him an All Star nod mainly due to injuries that have plagued his time in the Big Easy. Pairing Anthony Davis and Cousins gives Coach Alvin Gentry the tools he needs to turn around the floundering offensive fortunes of the club. Last season, the Pelicans offense was ranked 18th in the league (which is fine) but the team was poor defensively (27th out of 30) and unlike the Kings, fixed it by signing tough defenders in Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore. The tables have turned this season as New Orleans defense has picked up to rank ninth in the league but the offense has stagnated and fallen sharply to 27th per basketballreference.com.
Signing an offensive minded Center in Cousins solves a lot of problems as his double-double stats highlighted above, complements Davis’ own 27.7 points and 12 rebound double-double. Having two guys who can play either front court position is a death lineup in today’s NBA where a single big guy is enough for most teams who fear getting outrun and out worked by smaller, fleet footed guys. Cousins isn’t the quickest Center around but playing alongside Davis who is quick, eliminates a chunk of that problem. Since both can shoot the three ball, variety is the name of Pelicans game now. Pound Davis in the paint, he dishes it out to Cousins on the arc for a three point shot. Switch roles and the opposing team gets punished inside courtesy Cousins hulking physique and Davis’ impressive shooting skills.
Learning New Orleans made a run at Indiana Pacers star Paul George suggests strongly the side isn’t done reconstructing its roster. That conversation gets much sweeter and interesting because Holiday’s deal runs out once the season ends opening up a spot in the starting lineup for a star Point Guard to be signed. Ex-player Chris Paul can opt out of his deal with Los Angeles Clippers once the season is done and could be open to reuniting with the team that drafted him in 2005 but left because he didn’t get enough help from management to bring in players of his caliber. He will have that and even more because Cousins and Davis are younger (26 and 23) than most of his mates in Los Angeles.
Since virtually no team is willing to take Omer Asik, either Alexis Ajinca or Power Forward Terence Jones is likely to be traded in the coming days to make space for more shooters on the roster. New Orleans have really turned the final days of the trade season into a Mardi Gras.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@ YawMintYM on Twitter