Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins All-Star starter status further evidence of New Orleans combination’s ‘exciting potential’

by Jim Eichenhofer

It was common – and frankly, reasonable – for NBA observers to speculate that when the big-man duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins unexpectedly joined forces last February, they may get in each other’s way a bit on the court, or potentially experience a drop in numbers. Less than a year later, whether measured by their gaudy statistics or individual accolades, it appears those concerns were mostly unfounded. Davis and Cousins are the rare teammates to both rank among the NBA’s elite in scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking, with one or the other a top-four producer in every category. New Orleans’ incomparable frontcourt combination received further validation this week, when they were officially named 2018 NBA All-Star starters. It’s a first-time honor for Cousins, and a third time Davis was tabbed as a starter. Overall, Davis and Cousins are now five- and four-time All-Stars, respectively.

“The biggest question was, was it going to work? I think we just proved that it is and it can work,” said Davis, the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer at 26.7 points per game. “But it’s a testament to our hard work. We like each other, we complement each other. Just having those two All-Star spots taken up by us is huge for us as players, for our team and the organization.”

“I think it shows that both of those guys are willing to leave a little bit of their game off the floor, so that the other guy can be good,” Pelicans third-year head coach Alvin Gentry said. “It shows that they’re willing to do whatever’s necessary to try to be successful.”

Davis and Cousins were Western Conference teammates at All-Star 2017, then become Pelicans teammates later that night when New Orleans and Sacramento completed a blockbuster trade. This season the NBA has altered the format for the All-Star Game, featuring a behind-closed-doors draft that will determine whether Davis and Cousins are teammates or opponents at Staples Center next month.

“Hopefully (we’ll be on the same team), but we don’t get that choice,” Davis said of the squads being selected by team captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry. “They’re probably not going to allow us to be on the same team.”

Davis noted that he was pleased to see fellow Kentucky product Cousins garner All-Star starting status for the first time, saying he hopes one of the two Pelicans can win MVP of the All-Star Game. Davis won that award last February in the Smoothie King Center, scoring an all-time record 52 points.

“I’m more so happy for DeMarcus,” Davis said. “Not just being an All-Star, but being an All-Star starter. That’s huge. He’s having a hell of a season. It’s well-deserved.”

“This is the first time I’ve been in an All-Star Game with a teammate,” said Cousins, the NBA’s third-leading rebounder. “AD is more than deserving of it, as we all know. It will be cool to be there with a familiar face.”

Both bigs stressed that having two starters in the midseason classic – a first in New Orleans’ 15-year franchise history – is a special achievement for the Pelicans. New Orleans (23-21) had its best record at the midway point of the regular season since 2011 and now will try to end a two-year postseason drought over the final 38 games.

“It means a lot,” Davis said of having two All-Star starters. “We’re moving in the right direction. It’s big for the organization. We’re going to try to go out there and represent the organization well.”

“I think this is big for the entire city, the organization and our team moving forward,” Cousins said. “It just kind of shows what this combo has the potential to have. I’m excited for it.”