Another game, another New Orleans Pelicans loss. Boogie and the Brow took on the Utah Jazz Monday night, and once again, fell flat, 83-88. This leaves the Pels with a 2-5 record since the trade that saw DeMarcus Cousins land in the Big Easy. And that’s 1-5 with him in the line-up.
When DeMarcus Cousins got traded to the Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield and a couple of less shiny assets, it was labelled the heist of the year. Cousins is considered a top-ten talent in the NBA, a sought-after talent. Grabbing him for the price of Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, and a couple of draft picks seemed like a steal. And the Sacramento Kings were burned for it.
Yet, pairing him with Anthony Davis to produce the NBA’s best frontcourt on paper hasn’t exactly yielded success so far. What’s going on?
Pelicans Can’t Take Flight
The biggest, and perhaps most obvious reason that The New Orleans still haven’t taken flight, is their lack of time together. Every time a major trade happens – especially in the middle of the season – a period of adjustment follows. Cousins has been forced to work with a new team, people whose on-court tendencies and talents he may be unfamiliar with. He has to work with a new coach (again) and learn new plays to run. Even the colors of the Pelicans might take some getting used to, after six years of seeing Sacramento purple.
The New Orleans Pelicans, meanwhile, need to adjust to the loss of three role players, and integrating a new one into the mix. It doesn’t matter if you’re a star; that’s a challenge. And figuring out how to utilize both Davis and Cousins – big men who share similar skillsets as paint scorers and rebounders – will take time.
But a less obvious reason could be the coach as well. Despite the small successes he had with Phoenix – as well as the championship season he spent on the Golden State staff – Alvin Gentry hasn’t been good for the Pelicans. As suggested by Fox Sports, he may work well with established talent, but rebuilding is clearly not his strong suit.
A Roster To Build
The New Orleans Pelicans will also need to take a long hard look at their roster in the offseason. Outside of Cousins and Davis, they have Jrue Holiday… but no one else of note. Tim Frazier and Dante Cuningham are reliable, but not particularly heavy-duty weapons on offense. Jordan Crawford and E’Twaun Moore do their best, but pale in comparison to Holiday.
The Pelicans need help. As they probably won’t make the playoffs this season, they have to look ahead to the lottery, where they have a Top 3-protected pick (which goes to Sacrament if they’re not that lucky). They can also expect to have an early second round pick.
Meanwhile, the trading doors will remain open, and free agency is always a potential rebuilding tool. A lot of soon-to-be free agents – such as Gordon Hayward – might relish the opportunity to play with a front court as stacked as Boogie and the Brow.
The New Orleans Pelicans are still grounded, yes. But give them time. We haven’t seen anything yet.