You may have caught the 63rd annual NBA All-Star game last night. Chances are that DeMarcus Cousins didn’t.
The Sacramento Kings starting center had a legitimate shot of making this year’s game. But despite being one of a select few to average at least 22 points and 11 rebounds this season, Cousins found himself on the outside looking in on the league’s star-studded showcase.
“It’s tough,” Oklahoma City Thunder and this year’s Western Conference All-Star head coach Scott Brooks said of selecting reserves for the game. “You agonize over this decision because there’s so many deserving players. I’m sure every coach goes through the same things.”
Picking the Western Conference backups is no easy task for coaches like Brooks. The West is stacked with talent, particularly at the guard position, making it a difficult decision-making process.
Brooks thinks there are usually anywhere from two to five deserving guys who wind up missing the cut. One could easily argue that Cousins, who holds the longest double-double streak (15) in the NBA this season, was among those snubbed this year due to the numbers game out West.
Brooks doesn’t know the 23-year-old center personally. But from a distance, the Thunder head coach believes Cousins is making the necessary strides to be worthy of All-Star consideration sooner rather than later.
“(He’s) very close,” Brooks said of Cousins’ All-Star odds in the coming years. “He definitely has All-Star numbers. I think his leadership skills have really improved this past season. I think he has a chance to be one very soon.”
Cousins’ old Kentucky teammate John Wall made his first All-Star Game this past weekend. Wall knows Cousins was disappointed about being left out of this year’s festivities and as a friend, offered the Kings center some words of encouragement.
“(I) just told him keep playing,” Wall said of what he told Cousins to do after not making this year’s All-Star team. “I think you’re playing the best basketball you can play. And I think he’s maturing, especially not getting a bunch of technicals and getting fined and things like that. I think he’s taking the right step in a right direction.”
Wall expects Cousins to use the snub as motivation to improve. However, the Washington Wizards point guard doesn’t think Cousins has to change much about his approach to the game to earn future All-Star recognition. Cousins is averaging a career-high 22.5 points and 11.7 rebounds per contest this season.
Rather, Wall thinks that poor team performance separated Cousins from the borderline All-Stars that made the team. At 18-35, the Kings are tied with the Lakers for the worst record in the Western Conference at the All-Star Break.
“I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Wall, whose Wizards are in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt this season. “You gotta be able to win.”
Cousins’ audition for next year’s All-Star Game begins now. He has 29 more games this season, enough in Wall’s book to keep showing he’s on his way to becoming the player everyone knows he can be.
“I think he’s doing a great job of playing this season,” Wall said. “It didn’t work out for him to be an All-Star, but he’s still got a lot of games left that he can finish and try to make his team better.”