Not Enough Love for Cousins
When you think about DeMarcus Cousins you might think of his recent antics with Kevin Durant and Zach Randolph but what the casual fan might not know he is probably the best big man in the league right now.
On December 8th, Cousins was on the free throw line late in the fourth quarter and opposing big man Zach Randolph made a statement that all could understand if they had eyes that could read lips.
“Where I’m from, bullies get bullied,” Randolph said with Cousins right next to him on the line.
A couple of days earlier Durant also got into it with Cousins and it led to ejections. Cousins reportedly had to be restrained by security after the ejections were handed out because he was looking for Durant.
These two instances do not define the complete make up of DeMarcus Cousins. Even though Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings last year during the trade deadline he still held his DeMarcus Cousins Skills Elite Camp. It was free for all that registered and VSP provided eye exams and glasses for those that needed them.
In Mortal Kombat Scorpion is a favorite character. Why? Not because of his fighting abilities but because of his story line. His battle with doing good or doing evil is one that we can all relate to. Cousins fits that mold. His skills on the court along with the good he does off the court are often overshadowed by the negative storylines that come out about him but he is still known as one of, if not, the best big man in the league.
Cousins is not an off the court problem but when he is on the court he seems to attract attention in the negative fashion but he also honors the game in a way that is seen as an old school way of looking at basketball.
“It kind of sucks,” DeMarcus Cousins said after a win against the Denver Nuggets on December 6th. “The competitive spirit of basketball is slowly leaking out. Taking pride in one-on-one defense is slowly leaking out.”
“It’s more about selling calls and flopping. So, you just got to kind of ignore the B.S. and just play your game.”
In a way, Cousins is an old school player. Back in the day of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, The Bad Boys of Detroit, and Julius Erving basketball was more in your face and physical. Cousins is one of the players that still brings this dynamic to the game and is doing it all while being dominant at the big man position even though small ball rules the league now.
Cousins is listed at 6’11 270 pounds so it would make all the sense in the world that he wouldn’t be soft. He has the ability to shoot the three, post up, turn around and face the basket from the post up position, and put the ball on the floor against bigger defenders.
With all that said, Cousins is the ultimate nightmare matchup for all centers when you combine size with skill.
In that 123-114 win against Denver he posted a 40 point and 22 rebound game. The next game against his old team, the Kings, he posted a 38 point and 11 rebound game. Overall, Cousins is fifth in the league in points per game with 26.3, third in the league in rebounds with 12.6 and second in the league in usage rate with 34.6.
Cousins, who is the only big man in the league in the top five in scoring per game, is putting up a double-double and MVP caliber numbers but the problem is the team is not winning. In the last five games the New Orleans Pelicans have only won two.
The Pelicans are in need of a better defensive effort. They are 20th in defensive rating with 106.7. The small forward position could use a boost also as Dante Cunningham only averages 5.5 points a game.
The Pelicans have a player in DeMarcus Cousins that is clearly the best big man game in and game out (I say game in and game out because Joel Embiid doesn’t play every game like Cousins does).
The big man has evolved. The center position is now asked to play on the three-point line. Cousins is part of a group of big man that have the ability to play all over the court. If Cousins can one day be on a good team he will most likely be able to be an MVP in the future.
Stats and Info courtesy of BBall Ref, NBA.com, SBNation, Uproxx, Sacbee, Slam