Understanding DeMarcus Cousins’ shot selection

It was a tale of two halves for DeMarcus Cousins in yesterday’s nine-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets.  The Kings’ big man was en route to another 40-percent-or-lower shooting night after the first and second periods.  Cousins went 3-of-12, which included missing 7-of-8 shots around the basket.

DeMarcus  Cousins' shot chart in the first half versus Brooklyn. (NBA.com)

But Cousins found his stroke in the second-half, going a perfect 9-of-9 in third and fourth quarters combined.  He was much better at the rim, making seven of his nine total shots in the area around the basket.

DeMarcus  Cousins' shot chart in the second half versus Brooklyn. (NBA.com)

Cousins managed to end the night with a season-high 29 points on 57-percent shooting without adjusting much of his shot selection.  Of the 15 shots he took at the rim, almost half of them were taken off dribble-drive moves according to my count and analysis of game film.

So, what does this mean?  It means that the Kings center’s greatest strength can also be his greatest weakness.  Cousins is such an adept ball-handler and possesses incredible footwork for a man of his size.  Those abilities can lead him to make the game more challenging than it should.

A game like yesterday’s doesn’t help either.  Closing out the contest strong using the same bad habits only reinforces his ineffective style of play.  One can only hope that Keith Smart gets through to Cousins by using film and shows the Kings big man that more often than not, his way is much less successful.

Since he has the skills of a guard, Cousins tends to play inefficiently by either over-dribbling or making unnecessary moves to get off his shot.  In three seasons, Cousins is a career 48-percent shooter on shots around the basket according to NBA.com.  The Kings’ big man can’t be considered elite with a shooting percentage that low close to the rim.

Before his suspension, he started to make strides towards simplifying his game.  Cousins was posting up on the box more and veering away from setting up near the top of the key.  Cutting back on needless moves off the dribble can only help Cousins take that next step towards improving his sagging field goal percentage.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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