With the news dropping that perennial All-Star DeMarcus Cousins would be teaming up with fellow perennial All-Star Anthony Davis in New Orleans, it’s fair to compare them (at least statistically), to other great front court duos of the past. The thing is, there’s almost no comparisons.
Cousins and Davis are both so statistically dominant on their respective teams, that there’s no perfect historical parallel. So while it’s reasonable to expect a significant drop-off in numbers from them, we have no precedent to compare it to. Because something like this has never happened before.
One of the only possible comparisons that come to mind are the “Twin Towers”, David Robinson and Tim Duncan. But they were only simultaneously elite on offense for one season, Duncan’s rookie one. Robinson took a back seat for the rest of their time together, as Duncan molded into a bonafide Hall-of-Famer.
During that one season, 97’98’, the two both averaged over 21 points and 10 rebounds. Although impressive, Cousins and Davis dwarf these numbers. This season, they’re [Cousins/Davis] averaging over 27 points to go along with the 10 rebounds a piece.
That being said, a dip in production from the Pelicans duo should be expected, but a per game output of anything less than ~24 per game per night is unlikely.
(DISCLAIMER)While the current duo do trump the Twin Towers statistically, I’m not saying that they’ll be anywhere near as successful as the San Antonio front court, if successful at all. I’m just pointing out the undisputed facts.
Another 4-5 front court duo that comes to mind is the Olajuwon-Sampson pairing of the mid-80’s. Ralph Sampson was drafted in 83′, and Hakeem a year later, and the two went on to terrorize both offenses and defenses until 1988, when Sampson was shipped off to Golden State.
In their heyday, Sampson averaged over 22 points per game, and Hakeem over 24. It’s worth noting, however, that the talent level in this case isn’t nearly up to par with that of Cousins/Davis. As it turned out, Sampson relied on Olajuwon an immeasurable amount, an ended up falling off a metaphorical cliff as soon as he left town. The Pelicans duo don’t have that problem.
The latest, and most reasonable comparison to the newfound duo, however, is the Larry Johnson-Alonzo Mourning 4-5 partnership of the early 90’s in Charlotte. One season stands out in particular as a point of comparison: 1992-1993.
Both made All-Star teams as members of the same front court, and both averaged over 21 point with 10 rebounds per game. But again, such a significant drop off in the scoring department for either Cousins or Davis remains extremely unlikely. Both alumnus of John Caliper’s Kentucky, the two should find a rhythm together rather quickly.
It’s tough to pick out historical parallels to the Cousins/Davis phenomenon because we have seen such (offensively) talented big men paired together like this in the history of league, and I look forward to watching how it plays out.