This past Sunday, one of the biggest NBA trades seen in the past 5 years took place. This trade was a big step forward for one franchise, while a big step backwards for the other. The Sacramento Kings agreed to send DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for the sixth pick in last seasons NBA draft Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a top-three protected 2017 first round pick, and a top-one protected in either 2018, 2019, or 2020.
It has been over a decade since we’ve seen two dominant big men playing side by side. The last of notability was when a young Tim Duncan and an aged David Robinson played together for the San Antonio Spurs. This however is much different and this new New Orleans duo has higher potential. DeMarcus Cousins is just entering his prime at the age of 26, while Anthony Davis is just 23. Over the past 10 years in the NBA, the league has transcended from a big man dominant league, to a guard orientated fast-paced league. This leads a lot of people to wonder if not only can two dominant big men players coincide, but if they can also be a force in today’s NBA. As far as I am concerned, there is a lot of speculation for optimism as it pertains to these questions. First, both Cousins and Davis are not conventional back to the basket players. They can both space the floor and shoot the three ball—this season Cousins and Davis are shooting 35% and 30% from behind the arc respectively. Currently the Pelicans rank a dreadful 27th in offense this season. Cousins should help address this problem immediately, as he is the 4th leading scorer in the association. Also, this duo both rank inside the top 11 this season in rebounds per game.
While there are many positives from this deal, there are still a couple voids that need to be filled if the Pelicans want to take the next step into “contender status”. The Pelicans up until this trade ranked 17th in three point percentage, and now they are likely to take a bigger hit having traded away three of their guards. The addition of forward Omri Casspi should help a little, but they will be seriously lacking from this department until they make some upgrades.
No matter how this season plays out, the Pelicans will likely put themselves in a good position heading into free agency this offseason. A notable free agent that New Orleans could be heavily interesting in is Chris Paul.
As for the Kings, their front office continues to make blunder after blunder. I do think the trade of Cousins was the right move for the franchise going forward, but what they received in return was definitely light. Going into this past NBA draft, the Kings were very high on Buddy Hield, but they were unable to make a deal to move up in the order on draft night to obtain him. Hield has been a disappointment this season, averaging a measly 8 points per game. But the attention and focus being on him in Sacramento could allow for him to develop into more of what scouts had thought about him heading into the NBA. This front office in Sacramento has made many errors over the past few years; some of these bad decisions were drafting Jimmer Fredette over Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard, drafting Thomas Robinson over Damian Lillard, and once having Cousins, Isiah Thomas, and Hassan Whiteside all at the same time. The front office and ownership have acknowledged their failures and the Kings faithful can only hope they’ve learned from them. Cousins played in Sacramento over the past 7 years and the franchise missed the playoffs every year. He had a lot of issues on court as he constantly was in the running for most technicals each season. Also, seeing 6 coaches in 7 seasons didn’t help either. The good news for the Kings is that this coming draft has one of the deepest classes we’ve seen—the Kings could land up to two first round picks. A restart in Sacramento was much needed and it will be interesting to see if they are able to learn from previous failures.
Overall, both teams are taking the necessary steps to move forward with for the future. The Pelicans had been waiting to put a serious piece or two around Anthony Davis, while the Kings decided to cut their losses and hit the restart button.
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