USA Sportsbooks have had to make some “odditude” adjustment following the blockbuster trade that sent three-time All Star DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, and 2017 first round and second round draft picks. And Omri Casspi is gotta be somewhere in there, too. The Pels are fourth in the Southwest division with a 23-34 record and 11th in the Western Conference 24½ games behind the Golden State Warriors. As it turns out, though, many sportsball talking heads believe that New Orleans is at the very least postseason-bound.
Cousins is currently averaging career-highs in both points (27.8) and assists per betting game, and three-point shooting percentage (35.6%), as well as posting 10.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game in 55 regular season games with the Kings. Um, why did they trade him, again? Well, other than the technical fouls, suspensions, and fines. Opinions are divided as to which team got the short end of the stick on this deal. For example, NBA.com asked its writers whether the Kings got fleeced in the trade. John Schuhmann called Evans, Hield and Galloway “an underwhelming return;” Shaun Powell claimed that the Kings fleeced themselves when they failed to trade Cousins one or two summers ago; and Fran Blinebury predicted that the Pelicans “should make a run at the No. 8 spot in the West,” and maybe even as favorites on top USA Sportsbooks.
Over at CBS Sports Bill Reiter agrees with that assessment, saying that “New Orleans will surge after the All-Star break and easily claim the eighth spot.” On the one hand that might be easier said than done considering the Pels have to leapfrog over the Nuggets, Blazers, and Kings. On the other, those three teams are like a latter-day Orson Welles; easier to jump over than walk around. The Pelicans now possess arguably the best big-man tandem in basketball since Tim Duncan and David Robinson – and much more entertaining, too – in Cousins and All Star game MVP Anthony Davis. Neither will have to carry an entire franchise on their shoulders (even such flimsy ones as Sacramento or New Orleans) and Davis will be able to revert to his natural position. The Pelicans will have to house-train Cousins, of course.
The bad news is that if the Pels do clinch the eighth spot they would have to face the Warriors in the opening round of the playoffs, which did not go so well for the former in the season before last. The Warriors are so loaded that sportsbooks like MyBookie favor them win everything from the NBA title to a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. Then again, New Orleans could always become the sixth underdog to knock off a No. 1 seed in the first round (and join the 1998-99 New York Knicks, 2006-07 Golden State Warriors, 1993-94 Denver Nuggets, 2010-11 Memphis Grizzlies, and 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks). A man can dream, though. A man can dream.