Can this DeMarcus Cousins trade shift the style of the NBA?

DeMarcus Cousins

Being that I was born in the 90s, I was able to witness how the game evolved. During the 90’s and 2000’s, the main emphasis was playing from the inside out. We had some of the best big men in the world with guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan. Every possession was a dump down to the post and make the defense double team. But through the years the game slowly made its way to the perimeter.

The game sped up, the lineups got smaller and the big men found themselves on the perimeter. We began seeing “stretch fours” and teams like the Phoenix Suns abuse the pick-and-roll to their advantage. Other teams couldn’t keep up which forced their hand to play their bigs less and less. As the game got less physical and contained more finesse, more teams focused on pace, space, and shooting threes. The Golden State Warriors found a niche with small-ball to add to their lethal shooting and here we are today. The game has changed so much over the past decade but I wonder if we’ve just hit a moment where basketball may revert back to its old style of play.

DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and future draft picks. Now the Pelicans have a frontcourt of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Just let that sink in

DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis
NBAE via Getty Images

Two dominant post players of 6’10 stature who have both an inside and outside game. Diverse in style, dominant in strength, and versatile on both ends of the floor is what you get when you combine these players. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are 4th and 5th in scoring (respectively) and average a combined 22.5 rebounds per game. This trade only makes me wonder, can we see a shift in the style of the NBA?

We haven’t seen a big man tandem like this since Tim Duncan and David Robinson back with the San Antonio Spurs. With how talented and dominant both of these guys can be, one can only wonder how teams will deal with their size. Anthony Davis’ versatility will play to their advantage defensively because he can move very well out on the perimeter. Teams won’t be able to consistently revert to small ball because their size will be too much to deal with.

If the Pelicans can find success, we may see a shift back to inside-out basketball. The dominance of Davis and Cousins could force other teams to build their structure around stopping them, similar to what we saw as the game shifted to the perimeter. All it takes is one team to think outside of the box and force teams to adjust to their style of play. If that team finds success then the whole game shifts. If the New Orleans Pelicans can find success with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis then a change may be right in front of our eyes.


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