In order to win big in the NBA, you have to have more than just a good team. Sometimes when you’re deep into a tight Playoff game, team defenses are too good to reliably score against, so you have to find other ways of putting the ball in the hole.
This is where the basketball superstars come in, the players who have the skills to go get your team a bucket when they need it most. There are only a few players in the NBA with this capability. Players like LeBron, Durant, Curry and Harden are some of the top names, but there are maybe 10-15 players who can truly call themselves superstars in the NBA.
Anthony Davis is one of these players.
In 75 games last season Davis averaged 28 points and 11.8 rebounds with 2.2 blocks a game. He’s easily the best power forward in the NBA and has been since he was only 20 years old. He has an unbelievable combination of size, length, agility and touch which make him impossible to deal with 1 on 1. He’s great in the post, he has a terrific outside shot and he hits more than 80% of his free throws.
The Pelicans paired Davis with DeMarcus Cousins at the All-Star break last season hoping to create a twin tower scenario that would overpower their opponents with tough inside play, but so far New Orleans have been less than impressive.
They currently stand 4-5 and apart from the stellar play from Davis and Cousins there isn’t much to be excited about. Their point guard Jrue Holiday, once an All-Star averaging 18 points and 8 assists a game is only averaging 15 points and 6 assists with only 33.3% from beyond the arc. For a team hoping to make the Playoffs having a point guard that isn’t a real threat from the outside is a big problem. Davis and Cousins are so good on the inside that they need that balance given by some good outside shooting.
If the Pelicans are going to have any real chance to go over 500 this season then they may have to do what nobody else would think of; trade Anthony Davis.
5. Little Playoff Experience
Although Davis is a superstar in the NBA he doesn’t have a huge amount to show for it. In 5 full seasons, he’s only managed to make the Playoffs once in 2015. Despite his huge amount of talent and skill he has yet to prove himself as a winner and a leader, and the way the NBA is set up may hinder him even further.
Outside shooting and ball-handling have become a vital part of winning in today’s NBA. Since 2012 every Finals MVP has been a ball handler for their team. No matter how good Davis is, he doesn’t handle the ball that much means that he can’t decide what his team is doing very much. This inability to heavily dictate what his team does really obstruct Davis to affect the game, which makes it harder to win.
Davis needs a good point guard to help reach the next level and it looks very unlikely that they will get an upgrade on Jrue Holiday
4. Injury Prone
Despite the immense level of talent that Davis has he has had a hard time staying healthy. He’s never managed to play a full 82 game season and often only manages 65 or so. He has a very wiry frame which means he gets pushed around a lot on the court.
He has done a good job of adding muscle to his body, he came into the NBA only weighing around 220 lbs, and now he weighs more than 250 lbs, but his extreme athleticism means he is prone to injuries whilst he is flying through the air.
The last thing New Orleans needs is their star player not being on the court, trading him would eliminate that threat completely.
3. Trade Value
Davis is the best power forward in the NBA and has been for some time, and he’s only 24 years old. It’s very likely that he’ll be the best power forward in the NBA for at least the next 6 years. He has a huge amount of trade value and many teams would love to have him on their roster.
The Pelicans also have Cousins who seem to have reinvented himself after a tumultuous time in Sacramento and is bossing it for New Orleans averaging 29.4 points and 13.6 rebounds along with 5.9 assists.
The Pelicans could get a lot of good pieces for Davis which would put them is a good position to push for a playoff spot. Adding shooters to play alongside side Cousins would give him the space he needs to destroy opponents on the inside. A trade package that sent Holiday and Davis away from New Orleans would bring a huge amount of talent for Cousins and the Pelicans.
2. Bigger Market
For Davis, staying in New Orleans long term may not be the best path for his career to go down. There are much bigger markets like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago with the latter being his hometown.
New Orleans is a small market and the franchise is developing a reputation as a bit of a toxic atmosphere. They haven’t had any stability for a while now and the longer that continues the worst the situation will get.
If I was Davis I wouldn’t want to be the one that New Orleans relies on for the rebounding of their franchise, that is too much responsibility for any player. I’m sure that Davis would much rather play for his hometown fans with his family watching and a move to Chicago would enable all that.
1. DeMarcus Cousins
Anthony Davis’s new partner in crime down in New Orleans, DeMarcus Cousins, is the best big man in the NBA, even above Davis himself. Cousins is absolutely unguardable on the offensive end because he has the touch of a seasoned big man near the rim and the stroke and ball-handling skills of a guard on the perimeter.
His season averages through 9 games are 29 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists with 2 steals and 2 blocks which is just ridiculous, but he is a free-agent at the end of this season.
Cousins is worth $30 million a season, and that’s a huge ask for a franchise to invest in. It’s high-risk high reward for the Pels, so it might be best for them to take the safe option and trade Cousins whilst he still has a lot of trade value.
This trade of Cousins will then cause a domino effect to occur because once again Davis will be the only star in NOLA meaning they would be back to square 1 again. In this day and age, it is extremely hard to be successful with only 1 star on your roster, a fact that both Davis and New Orleans both know.
Should the Pelicans decide that Cousins isn’t worth it and trade him away this season then expect Davis to follow soon thereafter.