With the season already past the midway point, NBA GMs have their minds set on the NBA Playoffs. But for those teams that will be counting ping pong balls instead of playoff victories, the upcoming NBA Draft has many intriguing prospects that need to be recognized. So before March Madness takes over, Dime contributor Lucas Shapiro will be profiling players and giving them a team that would best fit their talent. Last week was Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson, so now we’re on to Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins.
Player Comparisons: Al Jefferson, Zach Randolph and Andray Blatche
DeMarcus Cousins is not meant for an uptempo team. He’s not going to amaze you with his athleticism, especially when it comes to movement. Conditioning and quickness are most definitely Cousins’ biggest weaknesses. Every time the guy has to switch directions or run the floor, he has a pained expression on his face. Cousins could stay in the game if he had better conditioning too. Aran Smith, founder of NBADraft.net, recently showed us how this has an impact on Cousins’ stats. Smith said that while DC is averaging 16.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, his stats are particularly impressive considering he gets those numbers in limited minutes (22.4 mpg). His per 40 minutes numbers are a staggering 28.8 ppg and 18.0 rpg. While all of this may sound awful, Cousins does have one great athletic attribute and that is his coordination. He has great body control and can shoot the ball well for someone who is 6-11. His strength has also never been in doubt when he is backing out opponents in the paint.
It is rare nowadays that you find a big man with good post moves in college. It is even more rare to find a big man with the array of post moves that Cousins possesses. Get him the ball anywhere on the court and a majority of the time, he will score. He has great footwork and knowledge of how to get the ball in the basket. He has NBA three-point range along with some decent ball-handling skills. Not only can he score at will, he knows how to position himself to grab both offensive and defensive rebounds. While he does average a good amount of blocks per game (1.7), he tends to be out of position often times. This is the reason why Cousins averages 3.2 fouls per game. Once Cousins gets a better understanding of team defense, he should become a great defensive player.
Someone in the Dime office suggested that DeMarcus Cousins should stay in college next year, and I have to agree. While on talent alone he could be a high lottery pick, Cousins does not have the mental capacity to become an NBA player yet. Ever since his days in high school, Cousins’ personality has been in question. People often question his work ethic and temper. As strange as this may sound, scouts were saying the same about Blake Griffin when he was in high school. Take a look at Griffin’s work ethic now and you’d be amazed that he was ever lazy at one time. If Cousins could prove that he is willing to work hard, he could make the jump this year.
Due to his lack of athleticism, Cousins’ potential is slightly limited. While we would love to see Cousins develop a good work ethic, one can only improve their athletic ability so much. However, it is always rare to see an inside-outside big man in college who can dominate as a freshman. Depending on whether Cousins has attitude problems in the League or not will determine what type of player he turns out to be. In worst case, he could be like an early-career version of Zach Randolph on the Jail Blazers. In a best case scenario, he could be like an Al Jefferson with more of a swagger.
Best Fit: Houston Rockets
Carl Landry was sent to the Kings, Yao Ming is still recovering from foot injuries and Luis Scola has an expiring contract. It is a guarantee that the Rockets will need a big man next year. Aside from a great opportunity for playing time right away, Cousins has another great opportunity to learn from his teammates. Trevor Ariza, Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries could teach him about the importance of defense and how to utilize his length. They have a slow-tempo offense in which Cousins would thrive in. Since Cousins and Yao have similar offensive styles, and coach Rick Adelman has been known for coaching great inside-outside threats such as Chris Webber, this team is nearly perfect for Cousins. It is a place where he can contribute right away, yet develop his skills as he goes on.
Runner-Up: New Jersey Nets
The Nets could use just about anything right now, but a power forward is filling a need. Imagine putting Cousins next to Brook Lopez on the block. Not many frontcourts could defend against that duo. Cousins could develop with a great deal of playing time in New Jersey and bring back memories of Derrick Coleman in his prime. In the event that he does land in New Jersey, let’s hope that this DC has a better attitude than his predecessor.
What do you think?
*Also, be sure to check out Lucas’ latest podcast as he got up with NBA and New York legend Kenny Anderson.
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