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New Orleans Pelicans have made a remarkable turnaround — crying shame too few games remain

Not that long ago, many had already given up on the Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins pairing. OOPS!

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Barring a major miracle — as in the Trail Blazers practically lose all of their remaining games while the Pelicans basically win out — a postseason trip for New Orleans is not in the cards. Yet, it’s far from the end of the world because the future is suddenly filled with hope, anticipation and in wonderfully bright neon colors: “Watch out for these Pelicans next year!”

Simply put, the Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins pairing is working. I mean really working. After an initial adjustment period, the Pelicans have caught fire and are racking up wins at a rate never before seen under Alvin Gentry’s guidance. And the best part is this doesn’t appear to be a crazy fluke; the two superstars are handling their expected big parts while the role players are assisting as necessary.

Jrue Holiday is averaging a rather pedestrian 14.5 points and 7.1 assists. Although Solomon Hill and Jordan Crawford are draining perimeter shots with incredible effectiveness, E’Twaun Moore and Tim Frazier can’t buy a bucket from long range.

In the games immediately following the DeMarcus Cousins trade, the New Orleans Pelicans very much looked like a disheveled team, one that had been gutted down to the studs. They lost three straight matchups by a combined margin of 51 points, and wins against the Pistons and Lakers sandwiched around another three losses did little to change a growing notion: Cousins was not the answer and Davis would soon tire of the losing and bolt New Orleans at first opportunity.

Points Per Game Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Net Rating DREB% eFG% Assists Turnovers
8-game stretch between 2/23-3/10 96.8 (30th) 96.1 (30th) 102.1 (6th) -6.0 (26th) 73.6% (28th) 46.4% (30th) 20.1 (27th) 16.0 (24th)
11-game stretch between 3/10-4/1 113.0 (3rd) 111.8 (4th) 102.9 (6th) 8.9 (2nd) 79.2% (8th) 54.6% (5th) 25.2 (7th) 10.7 (2nd)

My, oh, my, has that narrative now been forced to change its tune!

The offensive turnaround has been astounding. New Orleans went from the worst, or close to it in a number of categories, to among the league best overnight. Considering how below average the team consistently placed prior to the blockbuster trade, this is an incredible feat. It’s as though the Pelicans front office added another superstar, the players took some time to familiarize themselves with one another, and the coaches readjusted some roles and rotations... oh wait.

Normally, when a team is on the brink of postseason elimination, most cannot wait for the misery to end quickly — such as was the case last season in New Orleans. Well, six games remain on the 2016-17 schedule. Boy, oh, boy, don’t you wish it was another sixty?