Center Court: DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard


Dwight Howard going to the Los Angeles Lakers ends one drama and begins another. Howard doesn’t seem to lack for wanting, needing, and drawing attention and neither do the Lakers, for that matter. His going to Lakers seems like a match made in heaven. There is not one scintilla of doubt in my mind that he will remain there.

What does all of this mean for Sacramento Kings fans? Bryan Rosa summed that up fairly well in his post on What Does Lakers Acquisition of Dwight Howard Mean for the Sacramento Kings?

"As for the Kings franchise – it means little right now. They’ll play Dwight two more times a season and that’s about it – there’s really nothing different in the immediate future."

In the meantime…

I have to hand it to the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise.  I really do. They like to win. They like to win now, not wait for a franchise to rebuild. Watching their team age and crumble in the past couple seasons must have been a painful experience for them and their fans – especially their fair-weather fans, whom I suspect make up a fairly significant amount of their fan base.

I suppose it didn’t help to watch Chris Paul go to what once was considered the heretofore losing Southern California team, the Los Angeles Clippers and then watch them become competitive.  It only adds salt to the wound, to watch your own franchise decline, while your next-door neighbor is adding another upgraded car to his garage.

No, there was no way the Los Angeles Lakers were going to peacefully disappear into the night – not as long as Kobe Bryant has any say. There would be no long and painful rebuild, by way of the Sacramento Kings.

With Superman coming to the Western Conference, let the comparisons begin:

Dwight Howard was a first round first pick by Orlando Magic in the 2004 NBA Draft. He is 26 years old, born December 8, 1985. He is 6’11” weighing 240 pounds, according to statistics at Basketball

DeMarcus Cousins was a first round fifth pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2010 NBA Draft. (Many would argue, he would have been drafted first or second had it not been for the red flags, which have dogged him.) He is 22 years old, born August 13, 1990. (Tomorrow is his birthday, by the way!) He is 6’11” weighing 270 pounds.

DeMarcus Cousins

Per Game 2011-12

Games Played =64

Minutes = 30.5

Points = 18.1 (per 36 minutes = 21.4)

FG% = .448

FT% = .702

Total Rebounds = 11.0 (Per 36 minutes = 13.00)

Assists = 1.6

Steals = 1.5

Blocks = 1.2

Turnovers = 2.7

Personal Fouls = 4.0

Dwight Howard

Games played = 54

Minutes = 38.3

Points = 20.6 (per 36 minutes 19.4)

FG% = .573

FT% = .491

Total Rebounds = 14.5 (per 36 minutes 13.7)

Assists = 1.9

Steals = 1.5

Blocks = 2.1

Turnovers = 3.2

Personal Fouls = 2.9

It is anticipated there will be many comparisons between these two players, which should benefit Cousins. Everyone already knows what a great center Dwight Howard is. Soon the rest of the world will see what a great player DeMarcus Cousins is becoming.

Player Efficiency Ratings (PER)

Among all players, Dwight Howard ranks as Number 6 with a PER of 24.27, while DeMarcus Cousins ranks as Number 21 with a PER of 21.72. As a center, Howard is ranked as number one, Andrew Bynum number two. Cousins is classified as a power forward.

On a per game comparison basis:

DeMarcus played ten more games than Howard (64 to 54). Howard played nearly 8 more minutes per game (38.3 to 30.5). Some of this may be due to Cousin’s history of foul trouble, which results in him getting pulled out of games. Howard made more points per game (20.6 to 18.1). However, on a 36 minutes basis, Cousins made more points (21.4 to 19.4).

Howard has a higher FG percentage (.573 to Cousin’s .448). Much of this difference is due to Howard making his baskets at the rim, while Cousins continues to miss a fair share. On the other hand, Cousins had a .702 FT percentage to Howard’s .491. Big difference.

In terms of rebounds, Howard averaged 14.5 per game compared to Cousins’ 11.0. When you look compare on a per 36 minute basis, Cousins made 13.0 rebounds to Howard’s 13.7.  This is fairly comparable on a per minute basis.

You can see for yourself that the comparisons of  assists and steals are not all that different. Howard does have more blocks. He also tends to play closer to the basket. One statistic, which surprised me  – Cousins has fewer turnovers per game 2.7 to 3.2. On a per 36 minute basis this works out to 3.1 for Cousins to 3.0 for Howard. Not bad for Cousins, considering Howard has more years of NBA experience.

There is a notable discrepancy in personal fouls per game. Cousins has 4.0 to Howard’s 2.9. This becomes even more pronounced when comparing on a per 36 minute basis – Cousins has 4.7 to Howard’s 2.8. As Kings fans know, this has been a significant area in which Cousins has been working to improve this past season. It limits his time on the floor; consequently it limits his production.

What does this all mean?

This is good news for Sacramento Kings fans. These numbers bode well for Cousins looking forward. In comparing Cousins and Howard, both are the same height, Cousins weighing thirty pounds more, if these numbers are accurate. Cousins is nearly four years younger than Howard.  Howard has six more years experience in the NBA 2004 versus 2010.

Howard has more experience, but Cousins is a very bright guy with a steep learning curve.  Experience should only help Cousins close the gap between him and Howard.  Looking at the stats, Cousins already makes as many points as Howard on a per minute basis. When Cousins makes more of his baskets around the rim that will not only increase his points per game, but also help his field goal percentage.

While Howard has a higher Player Efficiency Rating, I would expect this gap to narrow over the next couple of seasons, as Cousins becomes more efficient. The bottom line, Cousins compares very favorably against Dwight Howard, right now. With more experience, Cousins should gain more ground on him. Watch out, Superman! Those footsteps you hear behind you maybe DeMarcus Cousins getting ready to pass by you.

We have good things ahead of us Kings fans.