What could possibly make DeMarcus Cousins even better than he has been in his somewhat under-the-radar star career? How about a defensive presence he hasn’t had by his side since Samuel Dalembert? That’s what Ryan Hollins could bring if the Sacramento Kings use him and Cousins as the frontcourt in the starting lineup this season.
When you watch a player like Cousins for 80 games year after year, you start to wonder how the Kings can use him best, to his own, as well as the team’s, advantage. You start to have crazy ideas, some that involve cloning, and even some which include time travel to bounce Olden Polynice off the mid-90’s roster and supplant Cousins in his place. Sorry, sometimes your dreams get away from you.
Cousins, 24, is an all-around beast. He has been since his rookie season, implementing his force on defenseless bigs the way no Kings player has since C-Webb. DMC has also improved, in almost every facet of the game since that 2010-11 campaign. But you can’t help but wonder, what can take his game to the next level?
Cousins’ stats have increased year after year in his first four seasons, ranging from his points, rebounds, assists and even his FG%, to other advanced stats, like win shares, offensive and defensive rating and turnover percentage. But, the Kings haven’t seen much improvement in those seasons, and with the additions Pete D’Alessandro added this off-season, you have to give a hard look at what possible combinations give the Kings their best chance at winning.
Ryan Hollins is entering his ninth year in the league and he’s only started 55 games in his career. What in the world makes him the type of player you start? Hollins is best suited with a scoring big, since he isn’t much, if any, of a scoring threat. But Hollins is one thing: the defensive enforcer the Kings drastically need.
According to TeamRankings.com, in Cousins’ first three years in the league, the Kings were 29, 29, and 27 out of 30 in points in the paint allowed. Last season under Coach Michael Malone, the team saw its points in the paint improve, but only to the middle of the pack. According to Basketball Reference, Hollins career blocks per 36 minutes sits at 1.6. Pair that up with a per 36 of 11 points and six and a half rebounds and you have a solid pairing to go with Cousins.
Now, I’m not saying Hollins going to play anywhere near 36 minute s agame, his career average is about 12 minutes-per-game, but I am saying that having him next to Cousins from the get-go can help Boogie find a rhythm early, rather than have to go up against the other team’s best offensive big. It would also help Cousins stay out of foul trouble and help him stay on the court, something that has to happen for the Kings to reach their full potential this year.
It’s nowhere near a perfect concept, but with players Jason Thompson, Reggie Evans, Carl Landry and such as your other options, I feel it’s the best product Sacramento can put on the court, at least early on in the season.