DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis alone are not enough to win basketball games in the NBA. Shocking, I know, but simply plugging in two superstars isn’t easy and against Western Conference playoff contenders the New Orleans Pelicans went 0-3 this week.
Cousins, for his part, is keeping a level head about the road ahead. Expectations? Eventually, but with 22 games to go if you thought playoffs were a shoe-in, it may be time to adjust your outlook.
No one is taking to the roster change more poorly than point guard Jrue Holiday. Holiday will return to form, but for the moment, it is as if the Monstars stole his basketball talent. Before the All-Star break, Holiday went on a tear and fans were talking themselves into a massive new contract for the 26 year old this summer. Since the trade, Holiday is a shell of his former self on both sides of the ball.
#Pelicans PER since the All-Star Break— Boogie Brow Fan Club (@thebirdwrites) February 27, 2017
Focus your attention not on DeMarcus Cousins picking up his sixth foul — in a valiant although misguided attempt to protect the rim — but Jrue Holiday on defense. What, exactly, is that?
Is Holiday going to post a single digit PER and be a liability on defense for the remainder of the season? Of course not. The sooner he can get back on track the better.
I still think the playoffs are possible, and these predictions under estimate what the Pelicans are capable of when they get more comfortable. Remember what I wrote about their schedule after the trade went down; it starts out very difficult but the last ten games are ripe for a substantial win streak.
The front end of the schedule is far more difficult than the back end for the Pelicans. In the first 15 games they face eight opponents who are .500 or better while in the final ten games they face just two; the Utah Jazz (in Salt Lake City on a SEGABABA no less, pencil that in as a probable loss) and the Golden State Warriors (also on the road on a SEGABABA).
Three losses did knock the shine off the trade for DeMarcus Cousins. Power rankers uniformly moved the Pelicans down into the bottom ten of the league once again.
Last Week: 19 - This Week: 21
We shouldn't have expected the Pelicans to begin the Boogie era on fire and last week's schedule, a home game vs. the Rockets and a road back-to-back, was tough. But with every loss comes a greater sense of urgency if they want to make the playoffs and their three-game losing streak has them in 13th place, four games in the loss column behind the eighth-place Nuggets. They've scored a paltry 96 points per 100 possessions with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis on the floor together, in part because Jrue Holiday has shot 29 percent and has almost as many turnovers (16) as assists (18) in the three games since the trade.
Last Week: 16 - This Week: 21
I'm as guilty as anyone of simply adding DeMarcus Cousins to Anthony Davis and handing the No. 8 spot in the West to the Pels. (Maybe it's wishful thinking for a Committee dreaming of the sort of meals that would produce for the Warriors' road games in the first games in the first round of the playoffs). In real life, New Orleans was outscored by 21 points and outrebounded by 10 in the first 44 minutes on the floor together for Boogie and The Brow in heavy defeats to Houston and Dallas. Things looked a lot better Sunday night in Oklahoma City ... except for the fact Cousins picked up suspension-inducing technical No. 18 in that defeat thanks to the fastest T of his career (32 seconds into the game). Throw in the horrendously unfortunate Omri Casspi injury, as well as Jrue Holiday's struggles adapting to his new role as third wheel, and the Pels surely have to be wondering why they're being excluded from Mardi Gras after swinging what so many of us thought was the trade of the season.
Last Week: 21 - This Week: 24
How quickly can DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis mesh? While I am willing to dub this team Boogie-Brow Productions for as long as it exists, if the Pelicans are serious about the playoffs, they have zero time to mess around. It’s really about next season for these guys, but the year-long audition to keep Cousins happy and in place has begun. It’ll be fascinating every step of the way.
Last Week: 14 - This Week: 24
Well, OK, all that optimism about Fire and Ice faded quickly. They're 0-3 with Boogie and the Brow. They just need time to figure this out ... and they don't have any.