Youth observed as DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis face off

The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans are two of the biggest surprises in the NBA so far this season. Ask observers and Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have to be among their top-5 early season MVP candidates. Both have gotten out of the gates quickly and led their teams to surprising starts at the top of the Western Conference.

Who would have thought that this matchup on a late Tuesday evening would be the one to watch. And it delivered.

But it also delivered youth. Tons of youth. And a reminder that while Cousins and Davis are the cream of the crop early on this season in the NBA, them and there teams are still a long way off.

Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
New Orleans 106 115.8 55.1 10.3 6.6 30.4
Sacramento 100 103.3 46.5 37.8 15.5 33.7

Anthony Davis (NOP) — 28 pts., 9 rebs.; Ryan Anderson (NOP) — 22 pts.
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) — 24 pts., 17 rebs.; Darren Collison (SAC) — 13 pts., 11 assts.
Game to Watch (11/19): Spurs vs. Cavaliers, 7 p.m./ESPN

For Sacramento, losing at home was a reminder of some of the struggles the team has had in recent weeks. The Kings became the first team to blow 15-point leads in back-to-back games. That would usually be enough to set Cousins off. He has shown an incredible amount of maturity on his way to his stellar start. It has helped his team too.

But they still have learning to do. A double-digit lead in the first half was completely erased in this one by a 31-15 third quarter from New Orleans. The Kings struggled to create offense and get stops throughout this quarter and fell way behind, having to scramble throughout the fourth quarter.

Cousins is playing well enough to give his team a chance right now. He is that dynamic of a player as a low-post player right now. Cousins had 24 points and 17 rebounds to make something of a statement individually. He likely wanted his team to make a statement.

If any statement was made though it was that both the Pelicans and Kings are still learning how to finish games and play in these big moments. New Orleans had its issues too.

The Pelicans had to sweat things out and finish at the end, seeing an 11-point lead cut to five late, including a late foul on a 3-pointer. The Kings did not quit.

And even with the lead, New Orleans struggled to expand it. The Pelicans’ interior defense struggled to finish possessions, particularly when Anthony Davis was out of the game. Sacramento collected 17 offensive rebounds to New Orleans’ four. That seems odd with the way Davis can dominate games.

Davis’ gaudy 28-point, 9-rebound stat line though shows that he put in his effort. Some nights, the team might need a little bit more.

The going thought though is the the Pelicans and Kings will eventually fade. It will take a continued gargantuan effort from both these promising young players for their teams to stay in this race for 82 games.

But youth has been observed. There will be good and bad coming from these teams. That much has been clear through a dozen games.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily