LEXINGTON, Ky. – The dynamic duo from the Big Easy are headed for the bright lights of Hollywood. Former Kentucky greats Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were named NBA All-Star Game starters on Thursday, Jan. 18. Davis will make his fifth consecutive appearance while Cousins is heading for his fourth All-Star Game.
The Pelicans’ stars will join the league’s best players on Feb. 18 in Los Angeles for the league’s annual NBA All-Star Game. Davis (pictured with UK coach John Calipari after winning the NCAA title in 2012 in New Orleans) was drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans (formerly the New Orleans Hornets) in 2012, while Cousins was the No. 5 overall selection in the 2010 draft to the Sacramento Kings. Since joining forces midway through last season, they’ve arguably been one of the league’s best 1-2 punches inside and have propelled the Pelicans into position for a playoff appearance.
Davis and Cousins were voted in by the fans, their peers and media members. Fans could vote via Twitter, Facebook, NBA.com, the NBA app and Google search.
Fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10 starters for the 67th NBA All-Star Game. All current NBA players and a panel of basketball media accounted for 25 percent each, with each participant completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three frontcourt players from both conferences.
Kentucky is the only school in the country with two former players in the 2018 All-Star Game starting lineup. When they suit up for the game, it will mark the first time a school has had two players in the starting lineup of the NBA All-Star Game since Wake Forest had Chris Paul and Tim Duncan in the 2011 game. UK had two players – Davis and John Wall – voted into the starting lineup in 2015, but Davis could not play due to injury.
Under a new All-Star Game format that replaces the traditional matchup between conferences, two captains will choose the rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves. The captains will be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes in his conference.
Voting closed Monday. The All-Star reserves are selected by NBA head coaches and will be revealed on Jan. 23. The complete team rosters will be unveiled on Jan. 25.
Davis is in his sixth season in the NBA and is enjoying another terrific season of what’s already been a stellar professional career. Davis is among the league leaders in a number of the major statistical categories.
The 6-foot-11 forward ranks fourth in scoring (26.7 points per game), eighth in rebounding (10.5 rpg), third in blocks (2.08 bpg) and eighth in double-doubles (23). His player efficiency rating, a strong indicator of a player’s overall contributions and value, is at 28.81, the fifth-best mark in the league.
Davis has had a number of jaw-dropping performances this year, including making NBA history by posting 95-plus points and 50-plus rebounds over the first three games of a single season. On Nov. 21, he recorded his 16th 35-point, 15-rebound game. According to BasketballReference, the only other player since 1983 who record more than 10 before turning 25 was Shaquille O’Neal, who had 27. Just recently, Davis recorded a 48-point, 17-rebound game and followed it with a 45-point, 16-rebound effort. He’s just the third player in NBA history with back-to-back games of at least 45 points and 15 rebounds. He’s now achieved the feat twice in his career, also turning the trick last season as well.
The game will mark Davis’ fifth appearance in the NBA All-Star Game and his third overall as a starter. He was also voted in as a starter for the 2015 and 2017 games. A season ago, he won MVP honors as the game was played in New Orleans. Davis scored an All-Star Game record 52 points in addition to contributing 10 rebounds. He broke Wilt Chamberlain’s previous scoring record of 42 points set in 1962.
Named the 2012 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player after leading Kentucky to the 2012 national championship, Davis has already put together a long list of accolades in the NBA during his short career. Among his most noteworthy achievements, he was named to the All-NBA First Team in 2015 and 2017 and the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2013. He was considered the consensus national player of the year – Kentucky’s first – in 2012.
Cousins is in his eighth season in the NBA and is having a magnificent start to an MVP-caliber season. He, along with Davis, are among the league leaders in a number of the major statistical categories.
Cousins ranks sixth in scoring (25.3 points per game), third in rebounding (12.7 rpg), 17th in steals (1.57 spg) 22nd in assists (5.1 apg), seventh in blocks (1.57 bpg) and second in double-doubles (34). His player efficiency rating is at 22.85, which ranks as the 24th-best mark in the league. He’s the only player in the NBA averaging 25 or more points, 10 or more rebounds and five or more assists.
His season highlights include returning to Sacramento and scoring 41 points, 23 rebounds and six assists. It was the first time a player scored at least 40 points, grabbed at least 20 rebounds and dished out at least five assists since Chris Webber did it on Jan. 5, 2001. According to NBA.com/stats, he was the first player with at least 40 points, at least 20 rebounds and at least six assists on 50-percent shooting since Bob McAdoo on Jan. 15, 1976. He was the fastest player during the 2017-18 season to record 500 points and 250 rebounds. He recorded 40 points and 22 rebounds on Dec. 6 vs. Denver. According to NBA.com/stats, he’s the first player with multiple 40-point, 20-rebound games in a season since Patrick Ewing had two such games in 1989-90. Add in his four blocks that game and he became the first player to record 40 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks in a game since Hakeem Olajuwon in March 1989.
The game will mark Cousins’ fourth appearance in the NBA All-Star Game but his first as a starter.
One of John Calipari’s first-ever signees at Kentucky, Cousins went on to average 15.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in an All-America season. He helped lead the Cats to an Elite Eight appearance after capturing the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament crowns.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught