Are the Pelicans Better WITHOUT DeMarcus Cousins?

In 48 games of the 2017-2018 NBA Season, DeMarcus Cousins was averaging 25 points, 13 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks.

In late January, Pelicans fans held their breath when they saw one of their two Franchise superstars go down with an achilles injury. DeMarcus Cousins was having a career year before this injury, but the Pelicans were only slightly above .500 with a Davis/Cousins tandem down low.

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Before this devastating injury, the Pelicans seemed to be a legitimate playoff contender as a 6 seed, but since Cousins' absence, they are now the 4 seed in a crazy competitive Western Conference.

It's a small sample size, but don't be surprised if you start seeing headlines saying that DeMarcus Cousins is a cancer and that the Pelicans are better without him.

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Regardless of where the Pelicans finish this season, they need to do everything in their power to keep Cousins on the roster and paired up with the 'Brow. What makes their front court so lethal is how the NBA is developing into a small ball league.

The new age of power forwards have become hybrids who can shoot and guard the perimeter, but with limited size they give up boards to bulkier power forwards like Zach Randolph.

The difference between the Pelicans playing big with Cousins and Davis, versus the old school Grizzlies playing big with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, is that Cousins and Davis are both freak athletes who can run with just about anyone. What makes this duo so scary is that Cousins and Davis can handle the rock and run like guards. In other words: Cousins and Davis on the floor together = Small Ball with two 7-footers.

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Spacing on offense is not an issue. It's not like having two Shaq's sharing the floor. DeMarcus Cousins averages 35% from deep, and Anthony Davis has a Dirk-esque mid-range game. The Pelicans play big without giving up speed, which changes the entire landscape of the league.

Long term, this duo can serve as an antidote to the Warriors and Rockets methodology of spacing the floor with wings. The main difference between Houston/Golden State vs New Orleans: The Pelicans don't have the depth or the fire power to keep up... for now.

Cousins deal is expiring, so the Pelicans have to max him out, despite the uncertainty of how severe this injury is going to affect him. I've heard of Elton Brand comparisons; he never fully recovered from such a devastating injury, and that's a legitimate concern. But when you're in a small market like New Orleans, you have to roll the dice in this scenario.

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The main issue with the Pelicans is how they are going to grow their depth. They are going to need to max out Cousins to retain him, but that will put them well beyond the luxury tax.

Jrue Holiday has over $100 Million guaranteed to him, and he although he is playing the best basketball of his career this season, it does not warrant a contract like that. The Pelicans also have solid role players in Mirotic, Solomon Hill and E'twaun Moore on the books for next season, but after that they're basically a G-League team.

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With a core of Holiday, Cousins and Davis, the Pelicans are going to need a serious group 3 and D specialists who are willing to take pay-cuts if they want to even dream of being in the same stratosphere as Houston and Golden State.

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