Well, the NBA quickly made up for the lame Saturday night and All-Star Game. Just after the All-Star Game ended, the Kings agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-round pick. That’s it. For DeMarcus Cousins. Yes, that three-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins.
Looking at the strategy side for the Pelicans, there is nothing to it. They are not going to miss really anyone from this deal and it's absolutely worth it to try to do the old zig-when-they-zag approach considering just how talented Cousins and Anthony Davis are. Yeah, Buddy Hield was the No. 6 pick in the 2016 draft, but he’s still been coming along slowly. The No. 7 pick, Jamal Murray, is younger and already looks like the better player. Sure, Hield has grown a lot as a shooter, but he can't defend well and still just can't score on his own. Remember when the Pels were talking about AD-Hield PNRs? Yeah. Anyway, when you have a chance to get Boogie at this price, you do it. Period.
Honestly, I have no idea what the Kings are doing. I mean, they’re looking at a #TrustTheProcess type of plan here, and they did set themselves up for a low cap number next season. Still, to trade away one of the best big men in the NBA, you just have to get back more than this. Plus, even with that money, why would anyone want to play there? One positive on this is they will almost certainly be keeping their top-10 protected pick away Chicago. On the other hand, they may also be swapping picks with the 76ers due to the Nik Stauskas deal. Again, this is just a terrible, terrible move and they may be the worst team in the Western Conference for the next three-plus years.
Alright, so let’s break down the Pelicans on this. This is a doozy, so I chopped it into two parts and you find the Kings side of this right here!
Let’s start with the Boogie Man. He ranks second in the NBA in usage rate with a whopping 37.6. Excluding Russell Westbrook's record pace of 41.0 usage rate, Boogie’s 37.6 is the most among qualifiers since Kobe Bryant’s 38.4 in 2005-06. Obviously that number should see a significant hit with Boogie getting minutes next to Anthony Davis, who ranks seventh in usage rate at 32.7. So how much should we expect it to drop?
On the Kings, there isn’t anyone even close to AD’s 32.7. Here’s a rundown of the usage rates of the top-eight healthy Kings he’s played next to this season with most minutes first: Darren Collison 18.1, Arron Afflalo 12.3, Matt Barnes 15.5, Garrett Temple, 11.1, Kosta Koufos, 13.3, Ty Lawson 15.0, Anthony Tolliver 13.0 and Ben McLemore 18.0. Besides not even being close to AD’s, they don’t even tough Jrue Holiday’s 26.0 usage rate this season. Cousins should be closer to 30, which is still fine. Plus, you can probably expect his rebounding rate to drop.
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Let’s throw AD into this situation now. Obviously his usage and rebounding rates should take hits. One thing that is the most interesting is where are both Brow and Boogie going to get their shots. Here’s a good representation of shot distribution and efficiency with hex maps for Boogie (top) and Davis (bottom). Check out the bottom line for each to show what the colors and sizes of hexagons mean:
Interesting. Davis is cash on the right side of the floor while Boogie gets more volume on the left, more treys, and struggles from 5-15 feet out for the most part. Obviously, Boogie just completely eats within five feet, ranking first in the NBA with 9.1 attempts per game — he’s actually slightly below league average at 57.2 percent on those. Meanwhile, AD ranks 15th on volume within five feet, but he’s extremely efficient with his 67.0 percent from there. You would think Boogie should just fill it up closer to the basket while AD is facing up more often on the outside. Plus, don’t forget both AD and Cousins are in the top seven for free throw attempts per game. The Pelicans are actually just 23rd in the NBA for free throw attempts per game, so that’s headed for a major spike.
Looking at the play-type stuff, there are some similarities. For isolation, Boogie has 4.3 possessions per game and AD is at 2.9, Davis leads the NBA in roll-man possessions at 6.6 per game with Boogie Cousins not far behind at 4.3, and on post-up plays Boogie sits at 5.9 per game with AD at 4.5. Not surprisingly, when they are involved in the play as a screener, it’s those two guys scoring. Even with AD’s 36.0 minutes per game, he’s still just 21st in screen assists per game with Boogie way behind at 67th in his 34.0 minutes per game — the Pelicans are 10th in PNR ball-handling possessions and are not good with their 31.0 percentile on those. In other words, it's not like Boogie's style to score should disrupt the offensive flow too much.
One other aspect worth looking at is how much time these two actually have the ball. Cousins is first among PF/Cs with time of possession and AD ranks just sixth in that group. Davis is among the best for making his touches count with his 57.9 true shooting percentage (TS%) with 48.7 percent of his touches coming without a dribble. On the other hand, Boogie has a 56.2 true shooting percentage with 46.0 percent of his shots coming without a dribble. This is also a positive.
Last thing on this front is how will AD fit in as a floor spacer at times while Boogie bangs down low? AD actually been a decent catch-and-shoot guy this year with a 45.8 effective field goal percentage (eFG%), but he only made 30.0 percent on treys. By the way, Boogie has been killer as a catch-and-shoot guy, posting a 53.0 eFG% on those 286 attempts. On the TNT broadcast, Davis said he likes playing power forward and he hinted his team just doesn't have depth to allow him to play the four, so this should be a welcomed sight overall for him.
So both guys shouldn’t see their efficiency change too much while both players should be taking a 6-10 usage rate dip. Boogie clearly counts on his usage more, so he has a bigger potential to slide more to a top-30 guy and not the No. 16 player he is right now. Davis is currently sitting at No. 2, but potentially losing great closer shots should cause a small slide. He should be more of a top 10-15 guy now, but this actually isn’t a big negative because now he’s almost certainly not going to be shut down. The Pelicans are basically laughing at the Nuggets for getting Mason Plumlee to say they're going for it.
Moving on, Jrue Holiday has been on fire. In his last 13 games, he’s averaged 21.8 points, 5.3 boards, 8.4 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.0 treys on 55.6 percent from the field. He had a 63.1 TS% and a 26.3 usage rate in that span, as well. Yeah, you know that usage rate is going way down. Deeper and deeper. Way down. With Boogie not as adept as a roll man as AD, Jrue is probably going to see his 9.4 PNR ball-handler possessions fall off.
One interesting part of Jrue’s game is that he has just 19.6 percent of his shots coming off a 0-2 second touch time in his starts. Among the 219 players with at least 31 starts, Holiday is only behind John Wall, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. In other words, he needs the ball in his hands to create his scoring, so you can fully expect that aforementioned scoring to see a major dip.
On the dime side, there probably won’t be a big change here. Cousins is unassisted 48.9 percent of the time, so it’s not like Jrue will help him too much there. Of course, you can expect Jrue’s surprisingly effective work on the glass to fall off, too. The bottom line for fantasy is he should still be solid and flirt with top-50 value, but the sell-high window just slammed shut.
Besides those three, that’s pretty much going to be it for the Pels for fantasy value. One interesting thing is now Tim Frazier will absolutely be back in the mix. Frazier has played next to Holiday for 229 minutes and the Pelicans actually had a +1.6 net rating, which is a top-10 combo among the 49 with at least 200 minutes. We should see that combo in games more often than not, especially against smaller teams. While Frazier could get some minutes next to Jrue and the first unit, you just know there won’t be stats there. Frazier will have to make his money in the second unit with around 15 minutes at the point. If you need a point guard in fantasy in a deeper league, he could have some value.
Solomon Hill actually had a good week, but those shots are going to be falling off a cliff. In fact, he has a 10.1 usage rate in his minutes next to both Davis and Holiday. E’Twaun Moore should also be looking at a slight bump from his 24.7 minutes per game. In November without Evans, Moore played 27.3 minutes per game, which is probably about right. The problem is where will the shots come from? Moore likely won’t do much besides around 1.5 treys and 8-10 points per game.
Terrence Jones is reportedly a goner, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN. His contract is great and he showed he can play, but clearly he’s lost a lot of his fantasy luster. Donatas Motiejunas, Quincy Pondexter, Dante Cunningham, Omri Casspi, Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik and basically everyone else has almost no value either.
Here's our trade rumor pod from Sunday: