Ed-itorial: Better without Boogie? Yes, for now
NEW ORLEANS — As the Pelicans stretch their winning streak to nine, the question is an obvious one: Is New Orleans better without Demarcus Cousins?
In Boogie’s absence, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday have thrived.
Post All-Star break, Davis has averaged 35 points a game.
In the nine-game win streak, Holiday averaged 25 points, nearly nine assists, and five rebounds a game.
Like his team, Holiday is playing free and loose. The Pelicans suddenly look like the team that head coach Alvin Gentry and general manager Dell Demps promised in the summer of 2015.
So, for the short term, the Pelicans have played like a team that doesn’t miss its first team Western Conference All-Star center.
But the bigger picture is, well, far larger. Cousins was brought here to win playoff series.
If the Pelicans make the playoffs, and then make a hasty first round exit, then the narrative about not missing Cousins will change completely.
Playoff success, or lack of, is what determines how the acquisition of a key player is perceived.
The Rockets are on a 16 game winning streak. Chris Paul is in the vicinity of all of his career numbers. This season he is averaging 18.9 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, and 8.1 assists. If the Rockets get past Golden State and into the finals, then the trade of Paul will be perceived as a good one.
In July of 2016, Golden State signed forward Kevin Durant to a two year deal.
Last season, the Warriors did not lose a game in the Western Conference playoffs, then defeated Cleveland in 5 games to win the NBA title.
With Durant on the floor, many wondered how the Warriors, with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, would share one ball. One Larry O’Brien trophy put that chatter to rest.
So, if the Pelicans win one or two playoff series without Boogie, then maybe they are better without him.
They certainly are a different team now without Cousins.
But, the playoffs will answer the Boogie question, and not until then.