DeMarcus Cousins in battle for All-Star nod

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Amid the Sacramento Kings’ struggles, DeMarcus Cousins must climb out of another hole.

Cousins seemed like a lock for an All-Star nomination during the Kings’ sizzling 9-6 start to the season. But an endless string of losses and a two-week absence with viral meningitis has jeopardized his candidacy.

The third round of All-Star balloting was released to the public on Thursday, and Cousins ranked eighth among Western Conference frontcourt players. Fellow King Rudy Gay placed 11th .

Here’s the results for the West:

Frontcourt

votes (Jan. 8) games played points per game field goal perentage rebs per game assists per game steals per game blocks per game team record
1) Anthony Davis 922,381  35 23.8  56.5% 10.5  1.6  1.5  2.9 18-18
2) Blake Griffin 490,786  36 22.6 48.5% 7.8  5.0  0.9  0.5  24-12
3) Marc Gasol 476,660  36 19.7  50.4%  8.1  3.6  0.9  1.6  25-11
4) Tim Duncan 374,814  32 15.3  48.1%  10.4  3.2  1.0  2.1  22-15
5) Kevin Durant 330,297  14 25.0  52.2%  6.2 3.6  0.8  0.9  18-19
6) LaMarcus Aldridge 315,405  32 23.1  45.9%  10.7  1.9  1.2  0.7  28-8
7) Dwight Howard 211,531  24 17.5  59.4%  11.7  1.4  0.6 1.7  25-11
8) DeMarcus Cousins 209,742  25 23.8  49.0%  12.3  2.9  1.2  1.7  15-21
9) Dirk Nowitzki 186,017  35 18.4  46.4%  5.9  2.2  0.5  0.5  26-11
10) Kawhi Leonard 115,194  22 15.2  45.4%  7.6  2.5  2.0  0.8  22-15
11) Rudy Gay 97,856  34 20.8  44.3%  6.2  4.3  1.3  0.5  15-21
12) DeAndre Jordan 75,777  36 9.4  71.0%  13.6  0.6  1.0  2.4  24-12
13) Tyson Chandler 63,906  36 10.8  67.0%  12.1  1.3  0.6  1.3  26-11
14) Nick Young 62,502  27 14.4  37.8%  2.4  1.0  0.7  0.4  12-25
15) Serge Ibaka 60,842  37 14.2  46.7%  7.2  0.9  0.4  2.4  18-19


 

Backcourt

votes (Jan. 8) games played points per game field goal percentage rebs per game assists per game steals per game blocks per game team record
1) Stephen Curry 958,014  34  22.9  49.3%  5.0  8.0  0.2  2.2  29-5
2) Kobe Bryant 862,568  32  23.0  37.5%  5.6  5.3  1.4  0.2  12-25
3) James Harden 690,843  36 26.8 43.6% 5.8 6.7 1.9 0.9  25-11
4) Chris Paul 401,945  36  17.8  48.0%  4.6  9.5  2.0  0.3  24-12
5) Damian Lillard 210,794  36  22.1 45.7%  4.8  6.3  1.4  0.3  28-8
6) Klay Thompson 170,827  33  21.6  46.4%  3.5  3.0  1.3  0.9  29-5
7) Rajon Rondo 165,427  32  9.4  41.0%  7.0  10.0  1.7  0.2  26-11
8) Russell Westbrook 159,264  23  26.2  43..0%  5.6  7.1  2.2  0.1  18-19
9) Jeremy Lin 148,763  27  10.9  43.8%  2.7  4.6  1.1 0.4  12-25
10) Tony Parker 75,325  23  15.2  50.4%  1.6  4.9  0.7  0.0  22-15

 

Under the modern format, votes determine the top two backcourt and top three frontcourt players to start for each conference. Then coaches pick another seven players to fill out each team’s bench, but two players must come from the backcourt and three from the frontcourt.

Sacramento has overcome bigger odds, but Cousins has absolutely no shot to crack the starting five. At this stage, when the three projected starters have more than double your votes, it’s time to concede the election.

Cousins’ status as a reserve is murkier. To earn a designated frontcourt backup position, the 24-year-old would is in competition with two legends in Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.  Duncan is averaging a double-double at 38 years of age and Nowitzki has the Mavericks off to a 26-11 start.

Also in the mix is LaMarcus Aldridge, who captains the current No. 2 seed in the West. Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard are obstacles as well,  but both have missed significant time this season.

Politics may come into play here, they always do.  But Cousins is widely considered one of the best bigs in the game.  Before illness and a coaching change, he had his team in the hunt for a long elusive playoff spot.

Unfortunately, Cousins’ fate may fall into a vaunted rival’s hands.

Kobe Bryant, who’s scoring 23 points per game but shooting an atrocious 37.5 percent from the floor for the floundering Los Angeles Lakers, is projected to start in the backcourt. The ever-so-popular athlete would likely not be chosen by (sane) NBA coaches, but the people at large think differently.

Bryant’s nomination would force James Harden out of the starting lineup, and leave the Houston Rocket to compete with qualified, worthy guards for the bench. Assuming Chris Paul is a guarantee, you can add  Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook and Klay Thompson to the growing list of players that Cousins will have to compete with for one of the final few spots.

For now, all Cousins can do is continue to rack up monster performances and lay off the technical fouls. A few more wins would help too.

For those willing to stuff the ballot box, voting ends on January 19. Starters will be announced on January 22, and full rosters on January 29. The exhibition will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York on February 15.

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Rui Thomas
Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.

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