(Quick introduction: My name is Zach Harper and I’ll be contributing here frequently at AWAW. Some people may know me from my work at HardwoodParoxysm.com, CowbellKingdom.com, RaptorsRepublic.com and/or Talkhoops.net. As a life long Wolves fan, I feel very honored to be on this site and to be working with Ben and Myles.)
DeMarcus Cousins is looked at as a very volatile and yet talented young man who is set to unleash a fury of punishment and bewilderment on the NBA.
The problem is that nobody quite knows which direction those things will be directed.
I’m not so much concerned with the player that DeMarcus will become. He’s an absolute barbarian when it comes to his play on the court. He’s usually the biggest and strongest guy out there and knows how to use this to his advantage. This seems like a very simple concept but it’s one that not many players know how to do. Cousins is clearly comfortable with his size. He doesn’t feel overgrown or too fat for these jeans in any way. He’s a powerful guy that enjoys throwing that power around.
His weaknesses are more mental than anything else. He’s a headcase and a bad apple but not in the conventional sense. He doesn’t really get into off the court problems. During his one year at Kentucky, he was a model citizen when it came to life away from Rupp Arena. However, when he was on the court and more importantly walking towards the sidelines, you could routinely see him disagreeing and arguing with his head coach in a way not representative of a gentleman.
I don’t want to say it’s a sense of entitlement with Cousins because that doesn’t seem to be the issue. I think he’s a very strong-willed individual who can butt heads with other strong-willed individuals. Put him in a program with a more easy-going head coach and you’d probably never know that Cousins was considered somewhat of a problem child. Sure, he’d throw the occasional elbow to an opponent’s head and he’d probably get a technical foul for screaming at the referee. But overall, you wouldn’t see him screaming at his coach to go intercourse himself.
I want to you to take a few minutes and review the following two videos. If you have the time, watch both of them in their entirety. However, it’s not necessary to do so. Just watch a couple minutes of each to see the fascinating psyche on display.
DeMarcus Cousins is seemingly brilliant if you ask me. I think he’s probably the most self-aware prospect I’ve ever seen come into the NBA. He knows what he is. He knows what he has been and he knows what he will be. There is no façade with him. There is no image he’s trying to portray. Cousins dances with reporters until he grows agitated by such tomfoolery. And yet, he’s toeing the line of letting his frustration get the better of him or keeping a cool head. It’s a fascinating look into a young man figuring out his professional obligations in real time.
However, in the paraphrased words of Dave Chappelle he’s pretty much delaying the inevitable of seeing what happens when keeping it real goes bad.
DeMarcus isn’t going to pull punches or sugarcoat anything. He has an opinion of how things are and he doesn’t fill the need to filter much. He’s too intelligent to just come out and say what’s on his mind when he can sense it will be twisted or used against him at a later date. If anything, he’s constantly reminding himself of his own Miranda Rights. He’s going to try to not say anything that will be used against him in a court of public opinion later on.
I don’t know that any of this is a problem either. But I also can’t say it won’t be a problem. With DeMarcus Cousins you’ll get a demonstrative entity capable of ruling the NBA paint. It’s not so much a question of how good is he? It’s more of a question of how good will he allow himself to be?
Throwing him into a frontcourt with Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Darko Milicic (assuming he re-signs) is a potential path of destruction and a Batman utility belt full of interior options.
If you need to go all offense, you can run Jefferson and Love together. Yes, it’s defensive equivalent of interior saloon doors but at the same time, no one can theoretically stop their post scoring as they continue to mature next to each other.
If you want more of a balance, you can throw out the combination of Cousins and Jefferson or Cousins and Love together. Both work in amazing ways. Cousins can account for any defensive liabilities Love or Jefferson might pose. He can guard the strongest post player on the floor or allow Jefferson and/or Love to guard them and provide stellar weak side help. On offense, you can put both Jefferson and Cousins in the post and let them take turns pulverizing the interior. Or you can play the high-low game with Love and Cousins and watch opposing big men weep in frustration.
And on those possessions in which you need to go all defense for big stops, you can run Cousins and Darko out there together and watch them bully opposing offenses.
DeMarcus Cousins is a once in a generation level talent on the inside with a perennial bust level attitude. Rarely do we ever see guys possess both of these traits. He’s a roll of the dice in many ways because you don’t know if he’s going to be an All-Star player for your team or the next team he plays for. He’s definitely not a guy you see sticking with one organization for the majority of his career. He’s likely to be a floater in this league in the mold of a Rasheed Wallace or Zach Randolph. He would have fit in perfectly with those early millennium Blazers team.
What David Kahn will have to decipher is whether they can risk being the team he unleashes his inevitable path of destruction upon.
Because one way (opposing team) or the other (his team), it’s going to happen.