DeMarcus Cousins, C, Golden State Warriors
2018-2019 Shortened Season Stats:
Points Per Game: 16.3
Assists Per Game: 3.6
Rebounds Per Game: 8.2
Shooting Percentages: 48/27/74%
Advanced Statistic: Assist Percentage: 20.4%
I don’t believe Cousins needs an introduction, but if you need one here you go. Cousins was an All-Star for 6 straight seasons before this year while putting up some truly crazy numbers. With a player so full of talent, it always seemed like his temper got the best of him in moments the team needed him.
That temper, competitiveness, and talent somehow landed in Golden State when no other offer was presented to the big man off an achilles injury. Playing as probably the 4th scoring option, he still put up some fantastic numbers.
Last season, the Mavs were definitely considering giving DeMarcus Cousins a max contract. This was obviously before the achilles injury. That free agency, they signed DeAndre Jordan after his contract got bought out and all seemed good. The rest is history.
I endorsed Cousins to the Mavs last year and I’ll do it again this year. A guy with that type of offensive ability does not grow on trees. At 6’10”, his ability to shoot from deep, play in the post, handle cross court, and make plays is not common for a center. In fact, the case could be made to say Cousins is a one of a kind center.
Now consider Cousins on the Mavs. He gets to play next to Kristaps Porzingis as a stretch 5 catching passes from Luka Doncic in a floor spacing, ball-movement offense. Carlisle has been able to get impressive production from centers in the past and the same should apply to Cousins.
Here are the obvious issues with Cousins… He’s missed a lot of games recently. A torn achilles cause him to miss the playoffs in 2018 and much of the following season. In this playoffs, he tore his left quad in the first round and has sat out ever since. The injury bug has not been kind to this man. At 28 years old coming off a major injury, how does his athletic prime look?
Second, he’s not as good a defender as one might think. Even though he generally averages 1.4 steals and blocks per game, his defensive rating has always been above 100 each season. Considering his defensive box plus/minus is relatively high, the defensive rating becomes more confusing.
Third, he’s a bit more ball dominant than other front court players. In Sacramento he was the only offense. He made his own shot, he terrorized other inside players, and he can handle the ball cross court. Playing with the Warriors this season, he had to get acclimated to their heavy ball movement offense. This reason, along with another major one, is why he struggled to find his 3 point shot.
Lastly, Cousins is known for having a temper on the court. However, this should not be confused with his personality off the court. Cousins was absolutely beloved in Sacramento and he never once complained about playing on a terrible team. Even with Team USA, everyone cherishes playing with Cousins and always talk about how he’s a fantastic guy.
The temper comes from his desire to win. He could never win in Sacramento. (When the Kings were finally winning games, they fired their head coach to the dismay of Cousins) When Cousins reached NOLA, he was a happy man. In Golden State, Steve Kerr said on multiple cases that Cousins was an excellent teammate. Perhaps this narrative was a bit overblown…
So here’s the deal… Teams will sign Cousins this off season to prevent what happened last year. Some team’s may overpay. (Can you overpay for a talent like him?) The Mavs should be one of those teams.
The injury history, temper tantrums, and play style aside, Cousins is still a really good player. He is 28 but he still has plenty of years ahead of him and he should be ready to go come game one of the following regular season.
He’s currently not worth a max contract essentially making him a bargain when he does play for his team. The Mavs were in love with Cousins; it’s possible they rekindle their love for the big man. Imagine a roster with Doncic, Porzingis, and Cousins with Carlisle as head coach. Just imagine…
With that this mini-series is up. Here’s to hoping the Mavs can figure free agency out this year to build the perfect team alongside Kristaps and Luka. This summer will be important in the direction of this team especially without the coveted lottery pick.