Cousins to Pelicans: What Does it Mean for the West, and the NBA?

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The NBA Trade deadline is arguably one of the most exciting in all of sports. It’s one that a lot of people constantly watch for, year in and year out, and pay close attention to. Some of the biggest names are liable to go to a new team, and as we approach the trade deadline, we’ve already seen this happen once, and there’s plenty more to come.

The most recent trade happened between two franchises: one, a franchise mostly perceived as completely out of luck, digging their own grave, all the while walking under several bad-luck ladders, past a few black cats, and shooting themselves in the foot. The other, a franchise that has seen extremely limited success and a copious amount of disappointments, and needing a shakeup badly. Even though they haven’t been fantastic, most fans and pundits pictured as being more competitive than it is currently. Those franchises, are as many of you know, the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans, respectively.

Most people are saying that the Kings shot themselves in the foot, once again, with the most recent blockbuster trade. The Kings sent DeMarcus Cousins and 36.8% career three-point shooter Omri Casspi  to New Orleans (where Cousins just played minimum minutes in the 2017 All-Star Game just this weekend, teaming up with new teammate and ASG MVP Anthony Davis) in exchange for the Pelican’s 2016 1st Round Draft Pick, and fan favorite Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, and it’s 2017 first and second round pick.

Now, most people who aren’t very familiar with the situation will look at this trade and see it as the Pelicans trading away two potentially very valuable draft picks. The Pelicans sit just 2.5 games out of 8th place after this weekend’s All-Star Break, and have a legitimate shot at closing that gap, and earning themselves a playoff berth. The injuries, most specifically to Anthony Davis, negated their playoff hopes last year, after making the playoffs the year before. It was assumed the New Orleans franchise would look to increase their odds of success this year before the Trade Deadline Thursday.

The Pelicans did just that in the trade for Cousins. In my opinion, the Pelicans came off the winners of this trade by a long shot. In the trade, they may have lost some backcourt depth, but they created a new force in the Western conference, with the best 4 and 5 spot combination in the league, and that we’ve seen in a long while. They are the only duo in those big man spots to average 20 Points and 10 Rebounds in a season since Tim Duncan and David Robinson did it in the 97-98 season. Though they lost fan favorite Buddy Hield, and NOLA native Langston “Green Light” Galloway, those players are streaky, at best, and though I hope Buddy will continue to perform, it’s a small loss when compared to the gain. The Pelicans can definitely look to improve in the guard position, but the trade allowed them to hold onto their best guard: Jrue Holiday. The depth can be added behind him, and any Guard will thrive with two big men like Davis and Cousins in front of him. The Pelicans not only created a great force in the paint, they arguably devised a perfect strategy to take out what is the best team in the Western Conference currently, Golden State.

Let me explain what I mean. To put it simply and not bore the crap out of my non-history-nerd readers, in the Greek fable of Achilles, a warrior was dipped into the “River of Souls” and held by his heel. His mother knew that Achilles would now be a formidable warrior, and all parts of his body that were dipped into the water were not impervious to annoy enemy assault, be it an arrow (INSERT FORESHADOW HERE) or a sword. In the end of the tale, Achilles is the best warrior of all time, but, a lucky arrow strikes the only part of his body not dipped into the water. The heel he was held by when he was dipped in like a strawberry into chocolate.

The Achilles heel of the Golden State team, a truly formidable foe in the Western Conference, and NBA as a whole, is their Interior Defense and protection against Big Man offenses.

If you can, imagine with me, Zaza Pachulia, a good player, but not one of the best in the realm of interior defense, squaring off against two of the best bigs in the league in interior scoring…..at the same time.

Could the Pelicans be the ones to take down the Warriors in a shock? Some pundits are arguing they could be just the team to do it, if mixed with production from their guards. A lot of the responsibility falls on Jrue Holiday and Tim Frazier. If the Pelicans manage to take a stab at the playoffs, and secure an 8th seed in the west, they will without a doubt be looking to dethrone the Golden State Warriors come playoff time.

I’m personally, as a Pelicans fan, hoping just to make the playoffs. Anything other than getting swept is an added bonus. It also devalues the picks we gave to Sacramento (another move pundits are criticizing) if we make it. Anything other than making it is something to be really excited about. I don’t expect us to beat Golden State, but at the same time, I also didn’t expect this trade.

One things for sure: the West, and the NBA, won’t be the same again, and this definitely makes the Pelicans frontcourt one of the hardest forces to be reckoned with.

Check back in a few days for my commentary on what this most recent trade will do to the Sacramento team that looks like it’s already given up contention for a playoff spot, and how they’ll look to rebuild through the likes of their new guards in Hield, Galloway, and Evans. Also keep checking back in with The Sports Guys for our views on what will for sure be a fun close to the trade window of the NBA.

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