The start of the 2017-18 NBA season is upon us and this is set up to be a make or break season for the New Orleans Pelicans. They have invested a lot of money, resources, and time attempting to try to build a team around young superstar Anthony Davis. This seems to be the year where all of that will come together to form a contender or fall apart and leave a broken franchise in its wake.

Anthony Davis and the Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans drafted Anthony Davis out of Kentucky with the first overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft. Since Davis first set foot on an NBA court he has been a force to reckoned with in his five seasons in the league.

He is already a four-time All-Star, two-time First Team All-NBA player, and two-time Second Team All-Defensive player.

In his five seasons in the league, Davis has already had two different coaches in Monty Williams and Alvin Gentry. In that time the Pelicans have gone 170-240 (.415) and only had one winning season in 2014-15. That year they barely squeaked into the playoffs as the eight seed and got swept by the Golden State Warriors, who would go on to win the championship.

In July 2015, Davis and the Pelicans agreed to a then-record five-year, $145 million extension which locked him up with the team through the 2020-21 season. While Davis is locked up for the long haul, he could easily put the team in a bad spot if they have another bad year.

DeMarcus Cousins key to present and future

The biggest piece that will affect all of this is DeMarcus Cousins. New Orleans traded for the big man by swinging a blockbuster February trade with the Sacramento Kings, giving up Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first-round pick, and a 2017 second-round pick.

Cousins played in 17 games last season with the Pelicans after the trade, with the team going 7-10.

They will have a hard time getting to the playoffs in a difficult Western Conference that has added the likes of Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Paul Millsap, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Brook Lopez.

With Cousins in the final season of his deal, he could easily decide to bolt for greener pastures if the Pelicans miss the playoffs or get swept in the first round.

If Cousins were to leave, then that could set off a chain reaction.

What if Cousins were to leave?

Veterans Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen, who are also on one-year deals, would likely not re-sign. Anthony Davis would likely not be happy about losing the best player he has ever played with and that even with Cousins the Pelicans went nowhere.

If Davis were to demand a trade, the Pelicans would likely have to give in or be stuck in an awkward situation like the Knicks were just in with Carmelo Anthony. This would likely lead to the team getting blown up, trying to trade guys like Jrue Holiday, Solomon Hill and E'Twan Moore for draft picks.

This summer when Davis was promoting a youth camp he was going to host he said the Pelicans “are tired of losing," adding that “we have the tools right now to be successful.” He also said, “we can't wait for the season to come and try to make some noise here in the loaded West.”