A few weeks back when Paul Westphal was still head coach of the Sacramento Kings, tuning into that evenings game – you weren’t sure if you were watching an NBA broadcast or an episode of Animal Planet’s ‘Beyond The Wild’ with the two butting their heads.
Westphal’s tough love wasn’t all bad – and maybe it actually did some positives for DeMarcus Cousins who’ll come to realize it down the road, but whatever the case, the new bromance between Smart and DMC has the Kings big man playing at a career best clip.
In Smart’s 11 games at the helm, Cousins has put up an impressive 16.2 points and 12.3 rebounds on 51% shooting (I took out his sick game where he played just 17 minutes) – and has had nothing but positive comments about the Kings new head coach:
“Everything has been positive right now. Coach isn’t scared to speak his mind. He’s going to tell the truth. He’s going to tell you how it should be and how it’s not going to be. He sets his guidelines and we all go by them. That’s something that we needed from the beginning. Coach is going to be real. If you mess up he’s going to tell you, ‘You messed up.’ That’s all we needed from the beginning.”
So you didn’t have that structure under Westphal?
“We didn’t, honestly. And it showed.”
Cousins hasn’t been the only one glowing about the pairing, as last night the Bee’s Jason Jones caught up with Keith Smart and asked him about Cousins’ recent play:
“I’m pleased with the way he’s playing, because he’s making big, big times steps. The steps, we as a franchise, want him to be making at this stage in his second year. So, he’s on a great pace right now. Doing the things I want – doing the things the team needs. Uh, good energy, passing the ball – being a decision maker – rebounding – getting in better shape. Just across the board he’s doing everything necessary right now. He’s showing he can play a little longer in the game at a nice high level. So he’s on track – he’s doing the things we want him to do and expect him to do. “
Cousins is a rare talent – harnessing that ability is solely up to him, but he continues to progress and unlike other young talent on this roster, regression doesn’t seem to be in his game. There’s no doubt he still has some serious on-court flaws that need polishing, but find me a 21 year old big man that hasn’t needed some buffing around the edges. The kid can play and in a season filled with such disappointment, Cousins really doesn’t deserve to be on that list.