With the regular season in the bag, and now with, what probably feels like a refreshing three days for fans to look back on their team’s season, this Sacramento Kings season was definitely filled with plenty of ups and downs. But there is one thing that stayed consistent, one thing that no one around the NBA can deny; DeMarcus Cousins proved he has the skill and potential to be a star in this league.
Since being drafted by the Kings in 2010 with the fifth overall pick, DeMarcus Cousins has shown he can be one of the most dominant big men in the league. Cousins has an array of skills–passing, shooting, back to the basket, rebounding, muscle–that no matter where he is on the floor he is a matchup problem for opposing teams.
DeMarcus Cousins had two major concerns about him before joining the NBA. One was his weight–which he continues to show each season will no longer be a problem. The second was his maturity level; DeMarcus Cousins has created quite a reputation for himself going all way back to his college days, when he and coach John Calipari would be seen arguing on the sidelines during games.
Now four seasons into his NBA career, DeMarcus Cousins is still looking to shake off the label as being immature. Before this season Cousins has had a rough three years trying to get away from this label that seems to be tagged with him everywhere he goes. DeMarcus Cousins through four seasons has now seen three new head coaches come in and get the big man to buy into their game plan and philosophy.
Prior to this season, Cousins had two seasons in a row where he and his head coaches–Paul Westphal and Keith Smart–could not find a way to get along. There were times with both coaches where Cousins was kicked out of practice and others where DeMarcus did not show up. Ultimately it resulted in both coaches headed towards the exit doors of the Kings franchise.
This season–being the season of change for the Kings–looks to have brought change to their prize big man. After the front office handed over the keys to the Kings franchise to the 23-year-old, Cousins looked to become a leader of this team and bring the team back to the days of winning. New head coach Michael Malone made DeMarcus his No. 1 priority this season, but not to change who the big man was. Malone made Cousins his No. 1 priority to assure him this would be a fresh start. With the season now over, it looks like the combination of Malone and Cousins is a success.
Offensively Cousins did not lose a step as his numbers have shot through the roof this season. Cousins showed a polish in nearly every aspect of his skill set. Cousins ended the season with 22 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists per game and a player efficiency rating of 26.1–that is fifth among all players in the NBA. Cousins also had a usage rate of 32.7 percent, second in the league to Kevin Durant. DeMarcus Cousins also passed Chris Webber for the Kings franchise record of most double-doubles in a season, finishing with 53.
DeMarcus improved his game immensely this season, and not just offensively. With coach Malone being labeled as a defensive guru; having a roster like the Kings, and finding a defensive anchor looked to be a very difficult task. Malone had to find a way to get his team to buy into a defense-first mindset. So why not go to your star big man and have him become that role model and team’s defensive anchor?
Now I am in no way implying DeMarcus Cousins is a defense-first type of player, but just look to the numbers and look at the progress. He set a career high in blocks (1.3 per game) and matched his career high in steals (1.5 per game). Do not forget the fact that Cousins is one of the best players in the league at drawling charges on the opposing team. Cousins also leads the league in defensive rebounding percentage (30.5).
Now the question of this piece is,”Is DeMarcus Cousins A Star?” As of right now in his career, I say no. Cousins still has much he needs to prove, and while yes, this was a great season, my question to the big man is can he do this consistently. Also DeMarcus did show improvement with his attitude this season, but lets be honest every time that whistle blew and you knew the foul was on Cousins, did you or did you not wait to see the explosion? I know I did. Maybe that is me nit picking at the big man, but he did get 16 technical fouls this season, which also resulted in DeMarcus missing the final game of the season.
I will say this about No. 15 in purple: This guy has all the talent and skill to make himself known as a star player in this league. Of course there is still a lot of room to grow and in no way has DeMarcus Cousins come close to finding his ceiling as a player. If Malone and his coaching staff, can continue to help develop DeMarcus, continue his progression on the defensive end of the floor, look out, because DeMarcus Cousins may become hands down the best big man in the NBA.
Vincent Miracle also writes for SacKingsNation.com- a website that gives fans breaking news, articles, and videos revolving around the Sacramento Kings.