“Which DeMarcus Cousins is going to show up tonight?” That’s the question that keeps Coach Malone up every night. There’s nothing more frustrating than having an all-world talent who is also an all world headcase! Specially when that’s also your franchise player. An overpowering combination of size & skill coupled with an overwhelming lack of focus.
Let’s start with the raw talent – there is no questioning that. He has all the tools. Even the (future) Hall of Famers agree.
The league exists in an era where true big men are scarce, specially world dominating ones, players who can just physically impose their will on both ends of the court, if they so choose. Sure Chandler is an elite defender, but his only offensive move is the ally-oop. Hibbert has the size and definitely the D, but its taken him years, and he lacks the explosiveness and the offense. With his athleticism diminished, Dwight is fading. Bynum is mulling a retired life at the bowling alley. Marc Gasol is playing phenomenal, but honestly, this is as good as he can get.
But Boogie? The days he gets his mind right, he’s pretty unstoppable already. And the worst part of it is, with some focus, discipline and effort (basically a complete attitude overhaul) he could be devastating. The type of player that other teams retool their roster for. Commanding triple teams. Running the offense out of the post, hitting cutters & shooters. Skilled enough to step out on occasion and face up, hit jumpers, stretch the D. Quick enough to grab the rebound & lead the break. Intimidating enough on D to disrupt an entire team’s inside game.
Players can often do some of these things and even just that is enough to make them great. DeMarcus can do it all. But the way things look, there’s really no guarantee that he ever will actually do it.
With this season, and the contract extension, with Tyreke gone, with all the Kings chips invested solely in him, we thought we’d see a new DC. Opening night it seemed like it.
And then true to form, there were more sightings of the old DC. The bad body language. Lack of effort. Lazy offense. Relegated to the bench for significant chunks of game time. And the consequent pile up of Ls for the Kings.
Last night against the Suns, the story flipped. They clamped down in the forth and he led them to a strong comeback victory, punctuated at the defensive end with his trauma inducing block that possibly erased the even the marginal traces of confidence PJ Tucker had in his already meagre offensive game.
Was this game a significant milestone in the narrative of Cousins? Was this where he turned the corner… for good? Or was he just teasing us with his immense game changing potential yet again.
Its not like big men with bad attitudes haven’t eventually figured it out. But it usually involves a change of scenery, a change of culture. No one thought Z-Bo could be saved till he finally bought in to the Grizz’s system and then did this… (it did take him 4 teams and 10 seasons to do this though)
Players need teams as much as teams need players. Rasheed needed the Pistons. Webber needed the Kings. Kazaam needed Phil & the Lakers.
Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes all that talent can go to waste. Sometimes the greatest players in the history of the game just give us the teaser, but the we never get to the feature presentation. Just ask Derrick Coleman, the original DC.
And when it’s all said and done, lets hope Cousins’ career wikipedia epitaph reads nothing like Coleman’s.
“When Coleman entered the NBA, he was compared to elite power forwards such as Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, and expected to put up similar numbers, only with the added ability to shoot from three-point range. Instead, his career was overshadowed by his questionable attitude (lack of work ethic resulting in excessive weight gain, plus alcohol abuse and general disruptive behavior)”.