NBA Sitrep – Disaster for DeMarcus, Jason Kidd fired and where is the Love?

A weekly post wrapping up all the action from around the association over the last seven days.

Tragedy strikes for Cousins and Pelicans

The Pelicans just can’t shake the dreaded injury curse.

After Davis’s sketchy history with injury, they have now lost All-Star centre DeMarcus Cousins for the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles.

Cousins sustained the injury after following his own free-throw miss with seconds remaining in the Pelicans clash against Houston.

Cousins was just months away from likely making his first playoff appearance, as Davis will now be forced to carry the Pelicans dwindling playoff hopes.

The injury is a shattering blow for New Orleans, who had won eight of their last ten contests and surged into the sixth seed in the West.

Cousins was having a career year, averaging 25.2 points per game, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists through his 48 games.

Andre Roberson will also miss the remainder of the season after he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon against the Detroit Pistons.

Despite his limited offensive ability, Roberson was having another stellar defensive season and was in line for a first-team All-Defense selection.

All-Star teams locked and loaded

I’m sure the All-Star draft was great, but unfortunately that’s about all anyone can say.

The NBA stuck behind their decision to keep the draft a secret, despite strong pushes from fans, media and even certain players to televise the draft.

Paul George will replace DeMarcus Cousins for Team LeBron, which also features Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook.

Team Steph is headlined by the Greek Freak, James Harden, Joel Embiid and DeMar Derozen.

As for who held the honour of the last pick, well at least Love is honest.

Next year, please televise it NBA.

All Outta Love

It’s been a rough week for Kevin Love.

An illness saw him leave the court early as the Cavaliers got trounced by the Thunder and kept him sidelined for the Cavs practice the next day.

Then the reports started to filter in about an explosive team meeting.

According to the Cavs their team meeting was not nearly as demonstrative as reported. Which is why I’m also guessing it was a complete coincidence that Crowder just momentarily lost peripheral vision and missed Loves outstretched hand.

Then Kevin began plotting his revenge.

He threw his jumper on Jeff Green’s face, who didn’t seem particularly amused.

He then skied over Isaiah Thomas to grab a rebound and handed the ball to him with significant distain.

Cue the Kevin Love trade rumours.

Are you Kidding me?

Jason Kidd’s time with the Bucks is officially over as he was sacked early last week.

The Bucks have struggled this season, despite the presence of Antetokounmpo, and sit in the sixth seed with a 26-22 record.

Kidd took the Bucks to the playoffs twice, but was knocked out in the first round both times.

Assistant Joe Prunty is serving as interim head coach and has led the Bucks to three straight wins since Kidd’s departure.


standings week 3Photo credit: ESPN


It’s taken half a season, but the Thunder are finally clicking into gear. They have won eight on the trot, which sees them jump into fifth in the West, just one game behind the Timberwolves. The leagues largest winning streak has seen them knock off the 76ers, Pistons, Wizards and Cavaliers. This has been an up and down season for Westbrook and the Thunder, but they finally look to be bringing the offense to complement their stellar defense.


The Celtics are currently in a mini-slump, losing five of their last six contests. They have fallen to the Pelicans, 76ers, Magic, Lakers and Warriors over the stretch, with the only victory coming against the Clippers. Kyrie Irving is not worried about the string of losses, responding to reporters with “you gotta hit some adversity. We have to hit something. Like we need it as a team.” The Celtics are still the top seed in the East and will look to rediscover their winning ways against the Nuggets tomorrow.

Heat Check

Stephen Curry

vs. Knicks – 32 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 8 made three-pointers

vs. Timberwolves – 25 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals

vs. Celtics – 49 points, 5 assists, 2 steals, 8 made three-pointers

Since returning from his ankle injury, Curry has been ripping teams to shreds with his dazzling shooting. His duel against Kyrie Irving (who had 39 points of his own) was a teaser of what we could see come June. After a slow start to the season, Curry has now charged into the MVP discussion with the likes of Harden and LeBron.


It was a week of milestones for some of the games greats.

LeBron joined an elite group as he crossed the 30,000 mark with this jumper.

Melo became just the 21st man to reach the 25,000 point milestone.

DeAaron Fox defied gravity with this game-winning putback slam.

Your weekly reminder that Giannis is very good at basketball.

Joel Embiid is a bad, bad man.

Whoopsie Watch 

It’s been that kind of season for the Knicks.

Should have let the point guard bring the ball up Lauri.

Jeff Hornacek lets it fly from Steph Curry range.

Pelicans or Pelican’ts

The first All-Star ballots are in and if the voting ceased now the West starting line-up would feature one Rocket, two Warriors and two Pelicans. The NBAs best big men are lined up against the wall in traditional schoolyard style and Pelicans coach, Alvin Gentry has somehow ended up with the first two picks.

DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Arguably the two best big men in the league are patrolling the paint and terrorising defenses, all while wearing the same uniform. So how are the Pelicans barely clinging to their playoff spot in the 8th seed, only one game above .500?

The Cousins and Davis experiment has now stretched into its tenth month. DeMarcus will be an unrestricted free agent come this summer and the rumours continue to swirl around Davis’s future at the Pelicans. Davis himself admitted in a recent interview that the clock is ticking on the Pelicans and their two stars.

“You can score, you can dominate. You can do whatever. But they calculate everything off winning. You know that. I know that. Everybody in the league knows that…For DeMarcus and me, this is the time. The time is now.”

In a league hell-bent on spacing, pace and small ball line-ups, the Pelicans are bucking the trend by pinning their hopes on two traditional big men. But while Davis (6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan) and Cousins (6-foot-11 and 270 pounds) may fit the traditional big man body-type, their play style is anything but old-school.

Both Davis and Cousins have handles the envy of many a guard in the NBA, which allows them to create opportunities previously unheard of for a big man. They can both run the point on a fast-break, surveying the options before dishing to an open teammate or taking the scoring responsibility themselves.

Here is Cousins running the fast break before finding Davis for the two-handed flush.

Here is Davis going coast-to-coast with ease on the Lakers defense.

While it may be common practice to see the likes of Steph Curry bursting around screens to create daylight for their shot, it’s somewhat uncanny to see the near 7 foot Davis nipping around the perimeter hunting for a three.

And because DeMarcus doesn’t want to be outdone, I’ll just leave this here.

Every night Cousins and Davis are a highlight reel waiting to happen, and while their dazzling moves leave fans searching for superlatives, the numbers also back up the eye test. Through 37 games Cousins is averaging 26 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists, while shooting 36% from beyond the arc. Davis is no slouch either, averaging 25.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, while besting Cousins beyond the arc with a clip of 37% from three.

As you would expect, the Pelicans frontcourt has very few offensive issues to worry about. Their combined firepower has led New Orleans to the 7th best offensive rating in the league, while scoring just over 111 points per game (best for 4th in the league). That’s almost seven points more every contest than the Pelicans managed last season, in which they ranked 26th for offensive efficiency.

Credit needs to go to Gentry for evolving his offense to incorporate Cousins, but the Pelicans slightly misfit supporting cast deserve their time in the sun as well. Jrue Holiday has taken his game to the next level, averaging a career-high 18.3 points, while still dishing out 5.2 assists per contest. Behind the play of Holiday and the somewhat shaky addition of Rondo, the Pelicans have jumped to 2nd in the league in assists, averaging over 26 per game (up from 12th last season).

While they may not be household names, E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller are leading somewhat of a three-point renaissance for the Pelicans. Moore (47% from three) and Miller (44% from three) have helped catapult the Pelicans from 19th in three-point percentage last season (35%), to 2nd in the league this campaign (38%). In the month of December, the Pelicans shot a scorching 43.2% from beyond the arc. The only team shooting threes at a higher clip then the Pelicans are the Golden State Warriors, which is not bad company for Gentry and his men.

So, the offense is anchored by two scoring giants, the team is top two in the league in three-point shooting efficiency and assists, which all combines for the 7th best offensive rating in the NBA.

This is the part where the dreaded ‘but’ enters the fray.

Unfortunately for Gentry and the Pelicans, basketball is a two-way sport. Offense is flashy, dominates the highlights reels and wins fans hearts, but without defense it all eventually crumbles to the ground.

DeMarcus Cousins is either incredibly unlucky and just always ends up on bad defensive teams, or there are some underlying issues on the other side of the floor for the three-time All-Star. Unfortunately for Cousins the numbers back up the latter.

The Sacramento Kings had a top twenty defense in exactly one of Cousins seven years there, and it was in Cousin’s rookie season. In the 2016-17 season, the Pelicans conceded just 106.4 points per game, ranking them as the 9th best defense in the league. With Cousins in tow, the Pelicans have slipped to conceding just under 111 points per contest this season, which ranks them as the 7th worst defense in the league. In the month of December, they had the 2nd worst defensive rating in the NBA.

The problems arise when Cousins is left to anchor the defense without Davis as his wingman. The Pelicans defensive rating with the pair both on the court is 104.3, which would be the 2nd best rating in the league. When Cousins is left to protect the rim on his own, the rating plummets to 112.9, which would be the 2nd worst rating the league.

Casting DeMarcus in the role of a traditional center is where the problems arise. While he fits the frame of a rim protector, he lacks the pace and lateral quickness to guard todays elite multi-dimensional scorers. While Davis can hedge out at Steph Curry to deny a three ball and then recover to contest his drive to the rim, Cousins simply can’t keep up defensively with the pace of the modern offense.

The results of Cousins left by himself speak for themselves. Here is Cousins low-light reel from a recent loss against the Rockets, in which Davis missed with a groin injury.

Cousins constantly gets stuck in no man’s land trying to defend the pick and roll. He has no idea whether to attack the ball or stay with his man and generally ends up parked below the rim waiting to collect the ball after it sails through.

Davis is the perfect Robin to Cousins Batman. He has the speed and agility required to play defense in the modern game and can clean up Cousins mistakes. The recipe for Pelicans success seems to be playing Cousins and Davis together, but that just presents another issue for Gentry.

Behind Cousins and Davis, the Pelicans are scrapping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to back-up big men. Omer Asiks jersey number is more than double his scoring average, and he wears number three. Cheick Diallo (pick thirty-three from the 2016 draft) has potential but is simply too inexperienced to anchor a line-up at this stage of his career.

Gentry has been hesitant to sit Cousins and Davis on the bench at the same time this season, and understandably so considering the inevitable offensive drop-off. But the key to the Pelicans short and long-term success seems to revolve around how best to hold the defensive fort when Davis takes a breather. Plan A was to rely on Cousins, but if they want the success they so eagerly crave come playoffs, Gentry better be reading up on his alphabet.

Unfortunately for the Pelicans, there is no magic answer to the DeMarcus Cousins riddle. How do you translate his incredible highlights and raw numbers into a winning formula? It’s the question that will be keeping Alvin Gentry and GM’s across the league awake at night.

The clock hand is ticking dangerously close to midnight for the Pelicans and the Davis and Cousins era.

As Davis said himself, “the time is now.”