In early July, the NBA world was set ablaze with the news that DeMarcus Cousins would be leaving the New Orleans Pelicans to head back to the West Coast, only this time he would join the two-time defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. In the wake of that huge loss, the Pelicans turned to another big man to fill Boogie’s role in former Los Angeles Laker Julius Randle.
Randle was sent packing from Los Angeles after a number of signings, including LeBron James. The Pelicans jumped at the chance to sign the former Kentucky Wildcat to take the place of Cousins and hopefully keep the team in playoff contention going into the 2018-19 season. So now for the big question: can Julius Randle replace Cousins?
That is going to be a big task for any player to do, especially one who seems to be a tad undersized, at least when compared to Boogie Cousins. However, over the last three years, he has proven to be a serviceable big man and does a great job rebounding, averaging at least 8.0 per game and 10.2 per game in the 2015-16 season.
Obviously, the Western Conference is likely going to be run by the aforementioned Lakers and Warriors with their stacked rosters, but that doesn’t mean a scrappy team like the Pelicans won’t be able to make some noise. And they are going to have to do it down low.
Rajon Rondo jetted off to Los Angeles to don the purple and gold this year, so the Pelicans are left with Jrue Holliday and new signee Elfrid Payton to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the backcourt. That is why you can expect them to lean on Randle as well as MVP candidate Anthony Davis and mid-2017 season trade pickup Nikola Mirotic to hold things down in the frontcourt.
When you look at the whole of DeMarcus Cousins’s career in New Orleans, it wasn’t as fantastic as some made it out to be. He joined the team from Sacramento in a trade that sent Buddy Hield and a handful of other players to the West Coast in the 2016-17 season and only saw action in 17 games. He played 48 games last year before suffering a season-ending torn Achilles, which won’t be healed until at least December, just weeks before the All-Star break.
While Cousins’s is a great player and will likely contribute a lot to the Warriors once he gets back on the court – likely in 2019 – it is looking more like Julius Randle will be able to play a much bigger role in New Orleans.