I’m not here to analyze the trade between the Kings and the Pelicans, mostly because there’s nothing to analyze.
I’m here because some of you are looking at the Pelicans’ 2-5 record with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup and are already saying that the he’s a bust. You’re prattling on and on about how bad of a teammate Cousins is, how neither he nor Anthony Davis plays enough defense, and how Cousins is overrated because he’s never been to the playoffs.
Let’s use my friend, “Mary,” as an example. Let’s say that Mary works on the code for a landing shuttle for NASA. People in the industry think her of as one of the top 20 programmers in the world. Everyone recognizes that Mary is individually great at her job, but NASA has put 11 slackers around her for the past five years because HR really doesn’t know what to look for in coders.
The shuttle has constant problems, but there are only so many hours in the day and there’s only so much Mary can do. People start to talk about how bad the landing shuttle team is, and how Mary must not be that great a programmer if she can’t bring the whole team up with her.
Eventually, NASA decides to move on from Mary and sell her contract to Space-X. Space-X is really excited to get Mary on their landing shuttle team, but the first few weeks are a little bit rough because Space-X primarily uses Linux, and she was used to a Python-based system at NASA. Mary is also struggling a bit to adjust to the way her new co-workers code.
Is Mary a failure? Was Space-X wrong to bring her in? Will Space-X ever have a working landing shuttle program?
Even if you knew the basics of programming, are you be willing to shout your opinion of Mary to the world? Probably not, because you recognize on some level that you don’t understand everything that is going on with Mary, her team, and such high-level programming.
It’s the same with the NBA.
You probably understand less than ten percent of what is going on during an NBA game, even if you watch every game. There are dozens of decisions made on the floor every second, the result of thousands of hours of mental preparation. But you think you know what’s best for a team or how good a player is because you played high school basketball? Get over yourself.
Watch the game for the joy that it brings you and the beauty of athleticism on display while you sit comfortably. Love the crunching of statistics and the projection systems that, yes, can bring you closer to understanding a player’s worth or impact. But at least have enough self-awareness to recognize that formulating any opinion of this trade based on what has happened in Cousins’ first seven games is rash and stupid. Team-building is a slow burn.
You can’t handle that?
Go root for the Cavs or Warriors.