Fantasy Implications: DeMarcus Cousins Traded to Pelicans

WOW. News is still pouring in as I sit here and write this article, but DeMarcus Cousins has officially been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.

I really don’t even know where to start or how to exactly organize this article because everything surrounding this trade is so chaotic right now. I’ll first start by outlining the trade details that we know right now (more details are going to continue to trickle in), and then discuss the fantasy basketball implications. So, here’s where we’re at right now:

Obviously from a fantasy perspective, the draft picks included in this trade are irrelevant. But every single player in this trade is going to see a rather significant change in their fantasy value moving forward – let’s start with the Kings.

Fantasy Impact on the Kings

The first thing that comes to mind with this trade is the chance for Willie Cauley-Stein to be unleashed. While he may not start, with the departure of Cousins and Casspi, he should have no issues seeing at least 30 minutes per game on a nightly basis moving forward. WCS has played 341 minutes this season with DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Omri Casspi off of the court and sees a nice spike in usage (up to 21.7%), rebounding percentage (14%) and Fanduel points (34.8). Even if Koufos starts, Cauley-Stein is the safer option for DFS purposes and warrants an immediate pick up in season-long formats.

Speaking of a spike in usage, with those three off the court, Darren Collison sees the largest usage bump (up 7.4% to 27.5%). I fully expect Collison to take charge of the offense as the only fully healthy point guard on the roster and now the best offensive weapon in the starting unit. This is a tougher situation to gauge because of the additions of Tyreke Evans and Buddy Hield. Evans will likely remain on a minutes limit for the time being as he continues to work his way back from injury, but Hield is likely to make an immediate impact – likely getting 10-15 shots per game and filling a larger role than he did in New Orleans. Evans, once off of his minutes limit, strikes me as the best long-term option on the Kings for fantasy purposes. In his rookie season with the Kings, he averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds. While I’m not saying this is the production to expect, I’m saying that the potential for a multi-category upper-echelon player to arise. Take advantage of his low salary in DFS formats as long as you can, because it won’t last.

While those four players are going to experience the biggest impact of the trade, Kosta Koufos, Ben McLemore, Aaron Afflalo, and essentially the entire Kings’ roster will see a bump in production, given that Cousins’ usage without Rudy Gay on the court was pushing 46%. That’s a whole lot of shots to go around.

One player that’s likely taking a huge hit? Matt Barnes. Current speculation has the Kings waiving their veteran forward to make room for their newcomers, a rather surprising move.

Fantasy Impact on the Pelicans

The trade impact on both teams is rather hard to quantify, especially on the Pelicans. While they lose a handful of wing players, we can safely assume that Jrue Holiday will see a healthy bump in his assist rate, but likely a drop in field goal attempts (potentially raising his efficiency for those of you in multi-category leagues with FG%).

How will the front court pan out? That’s the question that everyone wants an answer to, and frankly, I don’t have one. Both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will see a dip in production, because they’re both so used to having the offense run solely through them. As of now, I’m not at all willing to pay $10,600 for Davis and $11,000 for Cousins on Fanduel until we get a safe look at their production levels in their new situation (and once their price adjusts appropriately). While they should both see a dip in production, it’s still safe to assume that these two will garner at least 50-60% of the team’s usage percentage, but it’s which will be higher that’s on everyone’s mind.

When it comes to the rest of the Pelicans’ roster, E’Twaun Moore sees a boost with the departure of Evans, Hield and Galloway, as he’s now the only shooting guard on the roster. I’m not going to put any on/off court stats in this part because the addition of Cousins completely throws it all off. If you need a near-minimum priced player to roster, Moore wouldn’t be a terrible option, but his ceiling is extremely limited.

The player that I believe suffers the most from this trade? Terrence Jones. Known to be a DFS-favorite whenever Davis is injured, those days may be over. If (and when) Davis gets hurt again and misses time, I still expect Terrence Jones to take his spot in the rotation, but you can kiss the offensive production goodbye. Boogie would immediately assume the roll he had in Sacramento and Jones would then be the third option behind Cousins and Holiday on offense. His salary is way too high to even consider rostering, and I expect him to flirt with minimum-price by the end of the season.

The rest of the Pelicans’ roster is just about as irrelevant after this trade as they were before. Stay away from Ajinca, Asik, Hill, and Cunningham, and I really hope you wouldn’t have relied on them prior to this trade.

Like I said in the beginning, I want to keep this article short and sweet so you can get all of the information right away. We’ll start to see the usage percentages shift, but they’re almost impossible to accurately predict when such an impactful player is traded. While all attention will be turned to how this affects the slate on Thursday, take time to pay attention to the Pelicans’ and Kings’ offensive distribution as we’ll get our first glance at how things could shake out for the rest of the season.

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