DeMarcus Cousins got a little loose last night in front of the media. What he said has elicited a few chuckles, some “I told you so’s” and a nice fat fine from the league for well, calling out the league. But that is who DeMarcus is and personally, he continues to grow on me.
“Of course he would say that. That is what Blake is going to say, because he’s in L.A., where actors belong. And he is an actor.” –DeMarcus Cousins on Blake Griffin.
First, let’s get this out right now – Cousins is one of the top five big men in the league. At 21 years old, Cousins is already dominant and he is only going to get better. Experts will point out his high foul rate, high turnover rate and questionable shot selection as reasons why he won’t succeed. I will tell you that those issues are factors players typically grow out of or at least improve significantly as they mature.
Cousins is chastised for his immaturity off the court and I agree, he can be difficult to deal with on occasion. He can be offensive and say things that he shouldn’t, but he also takes losses personally and is the first to accept responsibility when he’s at fault. But for the record, there is nothing criminal about this kid. Cousins hasn’t stolen a car or punched a night club patron in the face. If it wasn’t for the fact that he plays in the NBA, he would just be a gregarious, giant of a man.
Cousins also speaks his mind and occasionally can play to the crowd of media members waiting for soundbite gold. He is a real life cartoon character who is paid millions of dollars to entertain. And that is exactly what he does – entertain.
“He’s babied. He’s the poster child of the league. He sells tickets, but he’s babied. Bottom line.” –Cousins on Griffin to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick.
The Sacramento Kings are mired in their sixth straight losing season. They have the lowest payroll in the NBA for the second year in a row and once again, their future in Sacramento has been called into doubt. And for one night, when Cousins scored a mere eight points in 18 minutes of foul plagued basketball, the Kings were relevant on the national stage.
Could the Kings have won Thursday night if Cousins played like he did Tuesday when he dropped 41 points and 12 rebounds on the Phoenix Suns? Maybe, but the Suns aren’t the Clippers. They don’t have NBA veterans like Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin. And let’s be clear, Vinny Del Negro sent in Evans and Martin to agitate Cousins.
“I guess the wind from my hand hit him in the eye. And I guess he got fouled by the wind. I’m not sure.” –Cousins on his controversial fifth personal foul against Griffin.
That is something that Cousins is going to have to understand and improve. Other teams have the book on what will take him out of a game. They take him out of the game because he is an incredible player and the Kings are much easier to beat when he is not on the floor. It’s hard to compete with Griffin when you are sitting on the bench in foul trouble.
Call it the Cousins effect if you will, but this kid makes life interesting for anyone and everyone around this team. Some reporters are taken aback by his brash nature, even offended. I can understand their reservations and on some occasions, I agree he goes too far. But he is 21. He just got his driver’s license a year ago and this is just the first year he can legally walk into a bar to order a drink.
Eventually, Cousins will stop being so impetuous. He will begin to give the cookie cutter answers that the other 98 percent of the league gives. And when that happens, the league will give him credit for what he is – one of the best young players in the NBA. Until then, he keeps things interesting for a team that would otherwise be an NBA afterthought.