DALLAS – When New Orleans pulled off a stunning trade in February to land DeMarcus Cousins, many wondered how the Pelicans would be able to incorporate the 6-foot-11 All-Star with another 6-foot-11 All-Star, Anthony Davis. But over 17 games together last season and seven in 2017-18, the combination has worked extremely well when both are on the floor. Cousins and Davis are among a total of only three NBA players who are averaging at least 25 points and 10 rebounds, with Giannis Antetokounmpo the only non-Pelican in that group across the entire league.
Although there was some speculation that Cousins and Davis might have to “take turns” as the focal point of the offense, or one would need to take a backseat to the other, that hasn’t been the case. There have been numerous games where both notched 20-10.
“One thing I’ve noticed, they know who they are and do what they do well,” said Pelicans point guard Jameer Nelson, an Oct. 22 addition, at Friday’s shootaround in Texas. “I haven’t been here a long period of time, but they don’t defer to each other. They just go play, and play well off of each other.”
Entering Friday’s Southwest Division game at Dallas (1-8), Cousins is averaging 30.1 points and 13.0 rebounds, while Davis is putting up 27.1 and 12.1 in those categories, numbers that are actually skewed downward by Davis’ five-minute, two-point cameo at Portland last week. The duo combined for a staggering 59 points, 19 rebounds and 12 assists in Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota.
“Those guys are two of the biggest talents in the NBA and the world,” Nelson said. “It makes it even more fun to watch, because they’re big guys, mobile, agile and can do things guards do. It’s a guard-dominated game right now, but those two guys are unique because they have so many guard skills.”
Other notes from Friday shootaround:
In order to help create more space for Cousins and Davis – and perhaps more importantly, provide additional scoring punch – the Pelicans (3-5) need to shoot better from three-point range as a team. In an odd fact provided by STATS Inc., New Orleans actually leads the NBA in three-point percentage during the first half of games (44.6), but is 30th in the second half (23.0). Taken in total, the Pelicans rank No. 21 overall in three-point percentage (33.6).
“I think we play so hard coming out, we expend a lot of energy,” Pelicans guard E’Twaun Moore theorized of the discrepancy between halves. “The more we get our legs under us, the better we’ll play and the more shots will go down in the second half. It’s just the first couple games. There is still time to fix and correct that.”
Moore leads New Orleans individually in three-point accuracy, making 42.9 percent of his attempts (12/28), with Ian Clark (42.3) and Cousins (36.1) also providing above-average success rates.