USA Today had no hesitation giving New Orleans an “A” grade. Divergent media sources ranging from the bombastic Stephen A. Smith to the significantly more reserved New York Times were equally profuse in their praise.
When the Pelicans shook up their roster and future outlook in a stunning way Feb. 20 by dealing for three-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, 26, positive reaction came from everywhere, with some even wondering if New Orleans might be a dangerous playoff participant. It’s not often an NBA team is able to land one of the game’s premier scorers and rebounders while he’s still in his prime, but that’s exactly what the Pelicans did by adding Cousins, in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a top-three protected first-round pick.
The Pelicans ultimately couldn’t recover from a 2-6 start after the trade, as they tried to incorporate a major piece into their attack, but they later showed significant promise. Cousins joined forces with four-time All-Star Anthony Davis to power New Orleans to an 8-3 stretch from March 11-31, with both players consistently producing eye-popping statistics.
“I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken as a team,” Cousins said of the late-season progress by the Pelicans. “Under the circumstances of how this team came about (with a midseason trade), I think we improved greatly. Do we have a lot to work on? Yes. But I’m extremely excited for the future. I think this team has a bright future, full of potential. It’s just a matter of time before everything comes together. We can look forward to the offseason and training camp coming up. I’m excited.”
NBA experience: 7 seasons (one with Pelicans) || Games played/started: 17/17 (72/72 total) || Age: 26