Pelicans Need Best Behavior From DeMarcus Cousins
For the remainder of the regular season, newly acquired DeMarcus Cousins will face a one-game suspension for every other technical foul he receives, jeopardizing his short-term value for the New Orleans Pelicans.
For all of the talent possessed by DeMarcus Cousins, his temperament was the liability that ultimately ended his seven-year tenure in Sacramento.
In the midst of his third All-Star appearance, Cousins was shipped to New Orleans, the host city of All-Star weekend this season, as the Kings embarked on another rebuilding effort.
Desperate to erase the 2.5-game deficit between their team and the final playoff berth in the Western Conference, the New Orlean Pelicans completed what appears to be a lopsided deal by sending rookie Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a first round selection in 2017 (with a top-three protection) and a 2017 second round pick for Cousins.
The 26-year-old is submitting his best season yet, averaging 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.
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Cousins has yet to play alongside an All-Star until making his New Orleans debut Thursday night.
The Pelicans are hoping the pairing of Cousins and Anthony Davis can carry the team into the postseason, but with the Timberwolves, Mavericks, Kings, Trail Blazers and Nuggets all competing for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, the duo has to jell immediately.
Referees whistle Cousins for a technical foul once for every 99.5 minutes he plays. With an average of 34.4 minutes played per game, Cousins has drawn a technical foul on average every three games this season.
At his introductory press conference, Cousins made light of his penchant for drawing the ire from officials.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 23, 2017
However, for a team desperate for his production, every other additional technical foul Cousins earns for the remainder of the year will draw him a one-game suspension.
After drawing a pair of technical fouls during a loss to the Bulls earlier in the month, Cousins became the quickest to earn a suspension for reaching the 16 technical foul limit in NBA history, becoming the first player to hit the mark in February.
Cousins is the first player with three technical foul suspensions and is the only player to earn technical foul suspensions in multiple seasons.
Adjusting his actions on the court is something Cousins has called a process, one that needs to kick in immediately for the Pelicans.
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New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry is going to have to find a way to take advantage of the exceptional passing of Cousins, a rarity coming from a player his size.
Not only has Cousins dished out a career-high 267 assists this year, the most among players at the center position (Basketball-Reference indicates he lined up at center 60 percent of his time on the court), but he also served as the primary facilitator for the Kings.
The 4.9 assists per game from Cousins led the team and his assist percentage of 28 percent is the third-highest in league history among players 6-foot-10 or taller, per Basketball-Reference.
The most frequent recipient of his passes, point guard Darren Collison, shot 54.1 percent from the field when being setup by Cousins. Jrue Holiday, his new point guard, is quietly piecing together an impressive campaign, shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from long range.
Those numbers could increase significantly, not only with the presence of the All-Star combination in the frontcourt, but with the crisp passing of Cousins.
The pick-and-roll with the trio of Cousins, Holiday and Davis could become one of the most potent the league has ever seen. Davis leads the league in points per game as the roll man by a wide margin, scoring 7.2 points a game off the play, 1.7 more than anyone else in the NBA.
Perhaps the trade to New Orleans will begin a new chapter for Cousins, as another superstar player that recently started with a new team praised his first public appearance with his new team.
I love the way Demarcus Cousins has handled this trade. Like a true pro!!! Great press conference.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) February 23, 2017
The Pelicans are hoping Cousins will lead a march into the postseason, without crossing paths of the referees.
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