Anthony Davis compared DeMarcus Cousins and himself to former Denver Nuggets duo Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, who played poorly together last season.
The main talking point with the New Orleans Pelicans this season is whether the Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins can play well together. Cousins’ addition didn’t provide a quick fix last season, and New Orleans missed the playoffs.
But adapting to a new team takes time. Working out with Cousins this summer, Davis believes the all-star duo will thrive. Unfortunately, he didn’t use the best example to make his case.
Speaking with media, Davis compared Cousins and himself to Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, who played together with the Denver Nuggets:
“I know they were saying we could be kind of like (Nikola) Jokic and (Jusuf) Nurkic and how they did stuff in Denver before,” Davis said. “They kind of ran their offensive package through those two big guys who were skilled. That’s what we are hoping he’s looking to do with me and DeMarcus.”
Judging from this, there’s a strong possibility Davis didn’t watch the Nuggets a lot last season. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports points out, Jokic and Nurkic played poorly together, and were outscored by 15.6 points per 100 possessions. Jokic didn’t thrive until Nurkic was benched. When Denver traded Nurkic to the Portland Trailblazers, the Bosnian big man revived his game.
Davis made a bad comparison, but context matters. The Pelicans added former Nuggets assistant Christ Finch to improve the offense. The Nuggets were the league’s highest rated offense the second half of last season, so Davis’ comments make sense in that regard. Jokic and Nurkic were the team’s most notable centers, making for an easy comparison. The offense thrived, however, because Jokic played without Nurkic.
The comparison doesn’t work, but the Pelicans hope Davis and Cousins will. Finch was hired to improve an offense ranking 18th in points per game and 19th effective field goal percentage last season. Davis doesn’t know the specifics of the offense yet, but meets with Finch soon to discuss it. Undoubtedly, it will revolve around making Davis and Cousins effective together.
Bad comparison aside, this is an important season for Davis and the Pelicans. The Western Conference is stronger, but the playoffs remain the team’s primary goal. Making Davis and Cousins work will hinge on that.