Michael Malone on DeMarcus Cousins’ exclusion from the 2014 NBA All-Star Game
All-Star reserves were announced yesterday and DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t among the seven players selected out west. The coaches had spoken by choosing mostly players who are producing for winning teams. Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, James Harden, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Chris Paul all received nods ahead of Cousins to come off the bench for the Western Conference.
Speaking to James Ham on this week’s Cowbell Kingdom Podcast, Kings head coach Michael Malone expressed disappointment in the news on behalf of his starting center, the organization and the city of Sacramento. In the weeks leading up to yesterday’s decision, the first-year head coach minced no words about his belief that Cousins is worthy of an invite to New Orleans.
“It would’ve been a great honor for everyone and you know DeMarcus has worked extremely hard,” Malone said in a phone interview from Dallas ahead of tonight’s match-up with the Mavs. “He came in the month of September, I asked him to come early with his teammates and he’s done everything I’ve asked him to.”
As he’s said in the past, Malone believes that Cousins’ production merit a first-time selection for the 23-year-old center. In his fourth NBA season, Cousins is averaging a career-best 22.6 points and 11.6 rebounds in roughly 32 minutes a game. Cousins also set a Sacramento era record for most consecutive games with a double-double. Before falling victim to injury last week in Houston, the Kings starting center posted 15-straight double-doubles, topping the previous record of 13 set by LaSalle Thompson in the 1985-86 season.
“When you look at his numbers, I mean obviously the numbers don’t lie,” Malone added. “He’s one of three NBA players averaging I think over 22 points a game and over 11 rebounds a game – the other two obviously being Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge (who are) both All-Stars. I think his numbers warrant All-Star consideration and I’m sure he got quite a few votes. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the team.”
Upon hearing the news on arrival in Dallas yesterday evening, Malone made sure to offer words of encouragement to Cousins. Malone said that the fourth-year big man will use his exclusion from this year’s All-Star game as motivation to keep getting better.
Production aside, Malone feels that the Kings’ 15-30 record played a role in Cousins’ omission from this year’s All-Star Game. He noted that when the Kings’ success also matched Cousins’ production, the 23-year-old center was rewarded for his efforts.
“The reality is, I think the one thing people hold against him is that he is on a team that is not winning at a high level or on a consistent basis,” Malone said. “He won player of the week earlier in the year because we went 3-0 that week. So if we can start to become a team of relevance, that competes, is a playoff contender, I think that’s when he will wind up becoming a perennial All-Star.
“No one can deny his talent, his numbers,” Malone continued. “But I think what they’re waiting for is can he do that on a team that wins in the NBA?”