Jan 7, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) smiles as a call is reviewed during the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Coming into the 2013-14 seasons, questions loomed about DeMarcus Cousins potential improvement. We knew what he could do on the court, but would a new ownership and coaching staff help turn Cousins into the All-Star caliber player that he can be? Or would the former Kentucky Wildcat shrivel upon becoming the franchise player?
Below are Cousins’ grades for the 2013-14 season.
Everything improved for Cousins this year—he became more offensively efficient, improved tremendously on the defensive end, and his bouts of inaction are far less frequent. He’s still not all the way there, and he still had a few off-the-court problems, but this was nearly the picture-perfect season for the young Cuz.
If you judge Cousins’ season based solely on statistics, it’s an easy “A.” The Kings man in the middle was a double-double machine, basically an automatic 20-and-10 performer night-in night-out. Sometimes you can take that for granted, but Cousins was consistently a load for other teams to handle.
But I hold the big fella to a higher standard because of his desire to be a team leader and NBA superstar. And in that regard, DMC has some room to grow. There were the 16 technicals, the on-court arguments with teammates, the suspension for punching, and though clearly not completely his fault, the Kings still didn’t win. Cousins bears a lot of responsibility as the Kings franchise player.
That said, Cousins did make some great strides. His attitude was leaps and bounds better than a year ago. DMC maintained his cool through adversity and really made a conscious effort to stay calm after bad calls and a lack of whistles. Skills-wise, Cousins was much improved. Unlike a season ago, Cousins showed true patience around the basket and tortured teams with his wide skill-set. His midrange jumper really became a weapon toward the end of the year. Defensively, Cousins had too many bouts of laziness, but when he locked in, he showed growth as a one-on-one defender and shot blocker.
What really is exciting are those occasional moments where Cousins just absolutely dominated, showing just how great he can be in time. Remember the final minutes of the Kings road win in Houston when Cousins took over the game on both ends? Those moments should become more prevalent, and if Cousins can make improvements as a leader and become someone who brings out the best in his teammates, the sky is the limit for the talented 23-year-old. The 2013-14 season was a step in the right direction.
Cousins is who he is, at least from a personality standpoint. Yes, there is room to mature but he’ll always be an emotional player. And while that can be frustrating at times, generally speaking, I tend to enjoy Cousins emotional style of play. While it would be great if his emotion only worked from a positive standpoint, that’s simply wishful thinking and you have to take the bad with the good when it comes to players like DeMarcus.
That all said, DeMarcus was extremely solid for the Kings this season and really improved from the 2012-13 campaign.
Cousins bumped his field goal percentage from 46.5 percent to 49.6 percent and while that still isn’t exactly what you’d like to see from a prototypical big man, Cousins does spend some time outside taking jumpers and/or at times wild shots. So while I’d still like to see an improvement moving forward, jumping three percent is a good sign. In addition to the better field goal percentage and scoring outburst, Cousins also was a bit more dominant on the boards and nearly doubled his win share from 4.4 in 2012-13 to 7.9 in 2013-14. All things considered, it was a nice improvement for Cousins who had a very good year.