This probably wasn’t what DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall envisioned when they jumped into the NBA Draft in 2010. In their third pro seasons, the former Kentucky Wildcat teammates have faced perhaps the most daunting tests of their young careers.
This year has been a challenge, to say the least, for two of the league’s most talented up-and-comers. In season three of their NBA journeys, their enormous potentials remain largely untapped.
Since his first overall selection in the 2010 draft, Wall’s career numbers stand at 16.2 points, 8.1 assists and 3.8 turnovers over 144 games. Cousins, meanwhile, has averaged 16.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.9 fouls over 185 games. They’ve tantalized and shown flashes of talent, but they haven’t been able to sustain the consistency needed to take their games to the next level.
Part of the reason has been due to their troubles getting on the court this season. Cousins and Wall have both missed time this year, but for two very different reasons. The Kings starting center once again let emotions stunt his progress as an NBA player and sat out five contests due to discplinary action in November and December. For Wall, a stress injury to his left knee cap sidelined the Wizards guard for the first 33 games of the 2012-13 season.
Their paths will cross again tonight as the Kings make their annual visit to the nation’s capital to play the Wizards. But their teams’ fortunes have gone in opposite directions since their last meeting. Wall and the Wizards have posted a 4-2 record, while Cousins and the Kings have gone 2-5.
However through their highs and lows, they’ve been able to maintain the close friendship they forged during their one-year stint in Lexington.
When Wall was fighting to come back from injury, Cousins said he reached out to his former teammate. He maintains that he didn’t force the issue, knowing that Wall had the wherewithal to weather the storm on his own.
“We don’t really have to talk much,” Cousins said of his relationship with Wall following the Kings’ 95-94 win over the Wizards in Sacramento. ”I mean, I kind of know where his mind is when he’s in a time like that. I’ve been around him enough to know.”
Cousins said he gave Wall room to breathe while he found his way back to the court. The Kings starting center believed it was important that Wall had his space while working toward making his season debut.
“I know (it was) a tough time,” Cousins added. ”He’s missed playing ball. I’m just happy for him to be back out there.”
When Cousins battled suspensions that cost him and the Kings early success, Wall was there to offer support as well. The 22-year-old Wizards guard encouraged his former teammate to not let frustrations get the best of him.
“Just keep you’re head up bro, keep moving,” Cousins said of the simple piece of advice Wall offered him. ”And I mean, that’s (worth) a thousand words there.”
Wall’s advice is something that Cousins valued highly at the time. But, it’s also advice he could apply to each day as he continues to work toward unlocking his massive potential.
Editor’s note: For a look at this story from Wall’s perspective, read this feature from Michael Lee over at the Washington Post.