Last year, then-Nets forward Anthony Bennett told Brooklyn fans, “Don’t watch us play this season.” That foreshadowed a 20-62 season.
Anthony Davis better hope his gaffe – one of being misguided, not misspeaking – isn’t as foretelling.
The Pelicans enter their first full season with Davis and fellow big man DeMarcus Cousins. They also hired assistant coach Chris Finch from the Nuggets, who started Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic last year.
“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.”
Jokic and Nurkic were terrible together. The Nuggets got outscored by 15.6 points per 100 possessions when the duo shared the court. In that time, they looked like the NBA’s worst offense and one of the league’s worst defenses.
Denver eventually benched Nurkic, and Jokic took off toward stardom. Nurkic sulked, and the Nuggets felt like they had to trade him. They sent him to the Trail Blazers in a horrible trade for Denver. Nurkic thrived in Portland, but only because he stopped playing with another center.
The Nuggets knew this predicament was coming and tried to prepare for using both centers together. It wasn’t enough. Succeeding with two centers sharing the court is tough in the modern NBA.
Davis and Cousins could work together. They both offer far more shooting range than Nurkic, and Davis is by far the most versatile defender of the four.
But if New Orleans’ bigs click, it’ll be because Finch learned what not to do from the Jokic-Nurkic pairing.