DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are just getting started

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 11: Teammates DeMarcus Cousins
CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 11: Teammates DeMarcus Cousins /

New Orleans is a music hub of the United States, and trying to figure out the Anthony Davis-DeMarcus Cousins front court is a lot like trying to figure out a really fun, high-potential rock supergroup. It features shades of brilliance from its individual parts, but while some things are clearly compatible, it hasn’t brought tangible results yet.

However, they’ve only release their first single. There’s more to come.

The Pelicans traded for Cousins on Feb. 20, one day after he shared the floor with Davis as Western Conference All-Stars. Both of them were having tremendous seasons individually, saw similar results numerically, but a stagnant winning percentage halted any chance of celebration. Keeping in mind Davis and Cousins’ absence in the team’s final five games, they were 11-14 in 25 games post-trade.

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Of course, this had to do with more than just the two major faces in the front court. Personal issues kept Jrue Holiday off the floor to start the season, making their point guard situation one in shambles. When he returned, he saw more time at off guard than some expected. The bench, while near the top of the league in scoring, was near the bottom in terms of scoring efficiency.

While the team never figured it out, though, it’s important to remember one thing — all we’ve seen from the Davis-Cousins combo is a 22 game sample size. And when they saw the floor together, they did put up results. Not only was their net rating together +2.8, according to, the team’s defensive rating stood at 99.6 when they were both on the floor. As an entire unit throughout the year, the Pelicans’ defensive rating was 104.9.

When they figured out their spots in Alvin Gentry’s offense together, their ability to devastate the paint became even simpler. While Cousins is labeled as a post presence — at least in comparison to his All-NBA teammate — he spent more time creating offense on the perimeter. Davis would then use his agility and athleticism to mix and match his spots on the floor. One of the scariest aspects of their two man offensive attack is their ability to run a pick-and-roll together.

Again: two 7-footers running a pick-and-roll. Good luck guarding this. /

To be clear, the highlights weren’t deceiving. They were awesome. But their shooting efficiency didn’t totally improve. They stayed the same in a lot of respects. In fact, the change pre- and post-trade are a bit odd. Clearly, they’re still figuring out the offense and learning how to play together.

Davis had the more interesting change. His shot efficiency improved, but not a ton. What changed was where the efficiency took place. With Cousins taking most of the load on the left side of the floor, Davis found his home on the right, his dominant hand, and the easiest way to space the floor between the two of them.

Davis pre-All-Star break on the left, post-All-Star break on the right

Cousins was the bigger beneficiary from the addition of another star. Operating more on the elbow in Sacramento (at a high efficiency), his work from deep increased significantly after the trade. He typically kept to his preferred left side, and shot 45 percent combined from the top and the left top beyond the arc.

As mentioned, while Cousins’ post game is well-documented, Davis is the one that took the most shots in the paint, in both total numbers and shot distribution.

Cousins pre-All-Star break on the left, post-All-Star break on the right

The good news is that Cousins and Davis seem to have found their places on the floor. They’re efficient stars who know how to get enormous numbers and do so without chucking or forcing the issue on offense. In that sense, the chance of them becoming a great rock supergroup — Crosby, Stills & Nash, perhaps — are high. They aren’t going to step on each other’s toes on the floor in order to get the results they want. The numbers, and their games historically, prove that.

More good news is that they held onto Holiday, a proven point guard who has meshed well with Davis in the past. Like Davis, his time with Cousins was limited last year, but his multi-dimensional two-way guard skills should add to the formula, rather than take away from it.

The bad news, which could eventually lead them to Chickenfoot status, is that they don’t have much else outside the three of them to work with. E’Twaun Moore is a good defensive player and brings good energy to their bench. Jordan Crawford put up good numbers off the bench as a surprise 10-day contract to end the year. We don’t know what Quincy Pondexter will bring to the table after not playing a single game in two seasons. Omer Asik’s efficiency and value remains a question mark.

Speaking of question marks, we haven’t even gotten into Rajon Rondo, who reportedly will start with Jrue Holiday as a goofy two-man guard combo to start next season. His odds of being mentioned as part of the next New Orleans basketball supergroup may be behind him, but his personality is of punk rock status and his unpredictability in terms of quality on the floor is (we’ll call it) a fun surprise in waiting.

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But what is for certain: Cousins and Davis are here to make it work. They’ve spent much of the summer training together, building chemistry and working towards a bright future in New Orleans. Their unselfishness and desire to make each other better is clear in the numbers, words to the media and via the eye test. As a potential supergroup, they want their debut album to blow their first single out of the water.

And they’ve been rehearsing.