If you are the kind of person that believes in karma, then perhaps the injury to DeMarcus Cousins on Friday night, as devastating as it is, Achilles rehab for a year, is the consequence for whatever is in Boogie’s past the Basketball God’s just don’t like.
His past makes me think Cousins was born on a rainy day. Consider the NBA evidence. He was trapped in Sac-town and every year it seemed he had a different point guard. Beno Udrih. Isaiah Thomas. Grevis Vasquez. Darren Collison. It was a rollercoaster of coaches too. Paul Westphal. Keith Smart. Mike Malone. Ty Corbin. George Karl. Dave Joerger. Not to mention horrible lottery misses like Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Devin Booker.
When Boogie was shipped out, it seemed his luck had changed. It took a minute for him and Anthony Davis to gel but boy have they in 2017-18. 51.7 points. 23.3 rebounds. 7.9 assists. 2.7 steals. 3.7 blocks. They are ranked 17th and 19th respectively on Real Plus-Minus. It’s a blow that DeMarcus is gone and will miss what was supposed to be his first run in the playoffs after 7 years of watching at home.
Why do the Basketball Gods hate him?
An Achilles injury is brutal. Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles in April of 2013. Other players have followed, two of whom were associated with the Sacramento Kings: Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Wes Matthews tore his Achilles in 2015 and so did Brandon Jennings. Past greats also suffered the catastrophic tear. Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Chauncey Billups.
What do the Pelicans do now? Their grasp on a playoff slot is tenuous. Boogie had been their best all around player this year and frankly I was looking forward to seeing him and Davis and LeBron and KD as teammates in the All-Star game.
As far as moves, the Pelicans don’t have many to make. DeAndre Jordan, who has an expiring deal, would be nice but the Pels don’t have anything in return. They can make a play for Julius Randle who is cheap but they’d have to give up a draft pick and move Davis to the 5. What Boogie’s injury does do in the short term is keep Alvin Gentry employed. He needs a healthy Davis and Cousins for a full season before he and his system can be evaluated.
Every coach wants talent and Gentry has two of the top-2 big men in the game.
To be fair to Gentry, his previous stops (Clippers, Suns, Warriors) had generational guards in Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Steph Curry. Jrue Holiday is above average but not at their level in skill nor is he adept at pushing a team to greatness, or the playoffs at the very least. It’s hard to get players to excel in an offensive system when you lack shotmakers.
The Pelicans are a terrible defensive team which is why with Cousins and Davis they couldn’t expect to get anything more than a 6th seed. The Davis/Cousins combo hid the ugly parts of the Pels game. The only team who gives up more points than the Pels is Phoenix. Their perimeter defense is average. That is why they are inconsistent.
With Gentry’s ability to design offenses and to pick up the pace, he now has to put his genius to work all over again and find a way for the Pels to fight their way through the Western Conference lower seeds scrum without their second leading scorer, leading rebounder, leader in assists and leader in defensive rating. Without DeMarcus’ defense, it’s going to be a rough uphill jog to the finish.
The question to be answered though is can the Pelicans, collectively, mesh all these loose pieces together without Cousins and actually execute some defense?
After the season, what then with the Boogie contract? Still the max 5 years, $175 million even though he won’t be back until 2019?
The Basketball Gods are not wearing a Pels uniform, that’s for sure.
photo via llananba