Unfortunately, there have been a number of serious, long-term injuries to key players in the NBA this season. Kawhi Leonard has barely played, Paul Millsap has been out for months, and Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL. The list goes on. But perhaps none of the injuries have had as much of an impact on the league as DeMarcus Cousins tearing his Achilles tendon near the end of January.
In fact, Anthony Davis, Cousins frontcourt mate, believes that if Boogie hadn't gotten injured, the Pelicans could have been NBA Finals contenders. Davis said as much in a recent interview with Rachel Nichols. Via ESPN:
"We could have gone through the playoffs. No one could really stop us as bigs. We go to the Finals if we went," Davis told ESPN's Rachel Nichols in an interview over All-Star weekend.
"[Teammate Rajon Rondo] reminds us of it: 'You guys are the two best bigs. I know what it takes to win championships; we got it.'"
Talk of the Finals may be a bit ambitious, especially in the Western Conference, but there was no doubt that the Pels were a very strong team with both of their All-Star big men. No team would have been looking forward to meeting them in the postseason.
Including the game in which he got injured, the Pelicans had won seven of their last eight games, and looked to be finally putting things together in the Cousins-Anthony Davis era. Since his injury, the Pels are just 4-5. Now, Davis and the Pelicans are in a battle just to make the playoffs.