Can two star big men coexist in the starting lineup for a long period in today's NBA? Let's take a look at some remarkable and true big men duos over the years in the NBA:

  • Kevin McHale and Robert Parish
  • Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley
  • David Robinson and Tim Duncan
  • Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace
  • Vlade Divac and Chris Webber
  • Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph
  • Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum

These star duos were a success because they complemented each other. One is usually the finesse player and the other is more rugged. One usually lives in the paint a bit more and the other is more versatile.

And the defense has to be a must for both. When these criteria are met, then the 'twin tower effect' can be a success.

The most recent star duos have been the Lakers' Pau Gasol and Bynum and the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol and Randolph. The Lakers' big men were able to help the Lakers win two NBA championships, while that of Memphis became renowned for adopting an old-school style of play and making every night uncomfortable for every opponent. Pau and Marc were the more talented scorers and playmakers, while Bynum and Randolph brought a more physical presence in the paint.

Davis, Cousins, and the big man problem

Today's NBA game has changed a lot. The game is played at a fast pace and the floor is spread more than ever because apparently now everyone is a shooter.

It has become a position-less game; therefore, big men have been marginalized on many occasions.

Mike D'Antoni and Steve Nash's Phoenix Suns might have been the pioneers, but the Golden State Warriors have taken this philosophy to another level, a championship level. And most teams fall in the trap of trying to mimic the Warriors' style of play.

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No one can beat the champions at their game.

The best chance teams have of truly challenging them is by slowing the game down, being rugged, and playing inside using bigger and longer interior players. But we are seeing fewer teams with two really big men playing alongside each other. There is one beam of hope, and that is the duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the New Orleans Pelicans.

Anthony Davis, 24, and DeMarcus Cousins, 27, are two proven All-Stars. Davis has averaged 22.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game for his career. Cousins has recorded career averages of 21.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. These are outstanding numbers in any era of basketball. They are clearly among the best big men in the game today. However, they have been unable to lead their respective teams to success prior to joining forces.

Cousins was traded to New Orleans after last season's All-Star Game. The Pelicans were 23-34 at the time of the trade and then went 11-14 after it. The two stars were not able to find a good rhythm together and lead the team to the playoffs.

Right now they are 23-21 and have a good chance of making the playoffs; however, we still hear rumblings about Cousins possibly going elsewhere in free agency or Davis getting traded. Can we continue to accept the excuse of the lack of playing time together or anything about the coaching? No, we should not, and here is why.

Davis and Cousins cannot coexist

The duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins cannot work because the two do not complement each other. Rather, they play a similar style of basketball. Both are 6 ft 11 in and both can play the power forward and center positions. They like to operate in the mid/high post and use their agility to get by the slower defenders and finish with efficiency around the rim.

One could say that they are guards in the bodies of big men because of their way they operate off the dribble and in traffic. In addition, they can spread the floor and are a menace from the three-point line. At the end of the day, Davis and Cousins occupy each other's space and therefore minimize each other's talent. Davis cannot drive to the basket whenever he wants because Cousins draws a lot of attention around the paint, and vice-versa. Cousins is a better passer, but the two do not usually look for each other.

Then there is the personality factor. 'The Brow' is a laidback star who lets his game do the talking. On the other hand, 'Boogie' is an edgy player who lets his nerves get the most out of him in many occasions, and that only hurts his individual and team performance.

If Davis is ice then Cousins is fire, and we know that the two do not go well together. Players do not necessarily have to like each other or share a similar personality; however, they have to be able to understand how to make each other better.

One necessary prerequisite for this to happen is that the two players have to understand their roles. There is usually one who is better than the other, but if the other is unwilling to accept that fact then that dynamic cannot work at its best, nor can the team benefit from that dynamic. But it does not look like Cousins is capable of recognizing that he is a lesser talent or embracing a secondary role. The supporting cast in New Orleans is also affected by this situation as they are unsure at times whom to feed the ball and at what pace to play.

It remains uncertain whether the Pelicans will make the playoffs this season. Yes, they are in the playoff picture right now and their two All-Stars are performing formidable. Davis is averaging an incredible 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game, while Cousins is producing a more balanced stat sheet with 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game this season. Their individual numbers are out of the question.

But the Western Conference is more loaded with talented teams than ever. Could Davis and Cousins handle another disappointing season? In addition, given the financial structure of the Pelicans, it does not look like management would be able to get them substantial help moving forward.

Jrue Holiday ($25 mill) is currently earning a bit more than Davis, and Cousins will obviously demand a max contract this summer.

This could mean that free agent DeMarcus Cousins could decide to join a team with better chances of becoming a super-team. And, more importantly, that could also mean that their greatest asset, Anthony Davis, could become disgruntled and impatient to take his talents elsewhere.

Do not lose hope. Big men duos will be back. As much as the game has changed, you cannot teach size and length, and if you add extraordinary talent to that mix then you have a great big man who can be decisive in an era of NBA basketball. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins just might not be THE duo.