Since the New Orleans Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins during All-Star weekend, they’ve been better without him playing. They’re 3-6 since the trade, and one of those wins came with Cousins suspended due to excess technical fouls. Another came when he fouled out in just 31 minutes. The most recent happened on Saturday, when Cousins was benched down the stretch.
Anthony Davis was devastating in that 125-122 win against the Charlotte Hornets. He scored 46 points, doing it on 18-of-31 shooting while adding 21 rebounds. He had nine points in the overtime period, helping make sure New Orleans hung onto the win and keeping their faint playoff hopes on life support. It all happened as Cousins watched from the bench.
DeMarcus Cousins checked out with 9:25 remaining. Has 5 fouls.
So much for Boogie and AD trying to figure it out together.
— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) March 12, 2017
Cousins has recorded either five or six fouls in five of his nine games in New Orleans, including tallying five fouls in the Pelicans’ last game on Wednesday. In Saturday’s game, he reached five fouls early in the fourth quarter, and Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry never subbed him back in.
After Davis subbed in for Cousins at the 9:25 mark, he never left the game. From that point on, including overtime, Davis scored 24 points on 10-of-17.
The Boogie-Brow pairing hasn’t worked at all
Since Cousins joined New Orleans, they’re outscoring opponents by more than five points per 100 possessions without him on the court. With him on the court, the Pelicans are outscored by about 11 points per 100 possessions.
With just nine games, on-off numbers are noisy and hardly definitive. Still, it looks equally damning when you focus in on just Davis and Cousins playing together — the Pelicans only score 91 points per 100 possessions with that duo on the court, which is miserable. The team’s effective field goal percentage with those two combined in a lineup is a godawful 41 percent.
It still might be too early to rule out their success
The personnel around Davis and Cousins isn’t geared for them at all. They need to flood the floor with shooters, and no one on the Pelicans’ roster is particularly fearsome stretching defenses behind the arc. Since the trade, the team is only hitting 32 percent of their threes.
Given New Orleans’ trajectory, and considering what they gave up, this was a talent acquisition they needed to make. Cousins has another year left on his contract, so they’ll have a real offseason to retool around those two all-NBA level big men before decided whether they want to invest more than $100 million in Cousins’ future with Davis. That’s a good situation for them to be in.
For now, though, with this roster, the reality might be that the Pelicans are better with Cousins on the bench. They won’t bench him completely, of course — but close games could see decreasing amounts of Boogie going forwards.