DeMarcus Cousins: Injury Shouldn’t Hold Boogie Back


Sacramento Kings fans were in full panic mode on Saturday night, as franchise cornerstone DeMarcus Cousins left the Kings’ second game against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second quarter with an apparent Achilles injury.

A ruptured or torn Achilles is one of the most devastating injuries in pro sports, and that happening to Boogie would be unfair. After how hard he’s fought for the Kings in his career, to finally be torn away from the first actually good team he’s been on just wouldn’t be right.

Thankfully, that’s not what happened. Cousins simply had a sore Achilles, and Sacramento decided not to risk his long-term health on a single game in October. So he sat, and the Kings lost.

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That was unquestionably the right call. It doesn’t matter if a team won 27 or 67 games last season–there’s no reason for any player to risk injury by playing through an ailment in October. It’s as close to pointless regular season basketball as you can get.

In an 82 game series, missing Cousins for a game or two here and there doesn’t hurt too much. Losing him for 23 games (the number Boogie missed last season) or more does negatively impact a season.

Right now it seems that Cousins is questionable for Tuesday, and if there’s any lingering soreness in that Achilles he would be right to sit out again. Especially considering that game is against the Grizzlies, one of the most physical teams in the Association.

Oct 31, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) shoots over Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) in the first half of the game against at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

That game also happens to be the first of a back to back set of games, as Sacramento squares off against Phoenix on Wednesday night. Don’t be surprised to see DeMarcus Cousins skip one of those two games, just to ensure his Achilles is truly all good.

Cousins has been steadily increasing his minutes per game over the last few seasons to a career-high of 34.1 minutes per game last year, but it might be wise to not break that mark this year.

The supposed luck of the Golden State Warriors in staying healthy for their championship run last season has been a contentious topic all summer. But what if it wasn’t luck that kept the Dubs in playing shape all year?

The Warriors’ leader in minutes played per game is Stephen Curry, which makes sense considering he was the team’s best player. Curry played just 32.7 minutes per game, and only missed two games all year.

Klay Thompson played under 32 minutes per game, and missed just five games. Draymond Green was on the court for 31.5 minutes, and played all but three games. Harrison Barnes was fourth in minutes per game on the Warriors with just over 28, and he didn’t miss a game all season.

Golden State had some notable injuries to Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, but for the most part their core players stayed healthy–and well-rested–all season and through their title win.

Teams that played their starters for more minutes per game during their regular season runs subsequently saw more injuries. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love all played more minutes per game than anyone on the Warriors last year, and two of those players couldn’t stay healthy in the postseason (and LeBron was clearly exhausted for most of the Finals).

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka all also played more minutes per game than Curry, and all three of those players dealt with injury problems in the regular season–most notably Durant, but Westbrook also struggled through multiple injuries in his insane playoff push.

And of course, the Houston Rockets and Curry’s MVP competition, James Harden. Harden had the burden of carrying the Rockets all season, and remarkably did so playing nearly 37 minutes per game and only missing one game between the regular season and the playoffs. So did Harden just disprove my rest theory?

Well, kind of. Harden turned in a truly insane playoff run too, up until Game 5 against the Warriors when he simply fell apart. In his first 16 playoff games, Harden averaged 28 points, 7.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 4.1 turnovers on 45 percent shooting and just under 40 percent from beyond the arc.

In that last game against Golden State, exhausted Harden managed just 14 points, five assists, six rebounds and a whopping twelve (!!) turnovers, on 18 percent field goal shooting. He missed all three of his long-range attempts.

Some teams may not have much of an option in sitting their stars as much as the Warriors did last season–close games require the presence of guys like LeBron and Harden. But I think that speaks to the overall talent of the Warriors–they were so good, they had the luxury of staying healthy.

Instead of one thing leading to the other, they went hand in hand. The Warriors were so good because they were healthy, but at the same time they were healthy because they were so damn good. DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings could learn a thing or two from their example, even though they won’t be winning 67 games anytime soon.

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Resting Boogie in blowouts for either side will keep him healthy for the entire season, which will really matter if Sacramento does sneak into the playoffs this year. Cousins has never been involved in NBA postseason play–he’ll need quite a bit of gas left in the tank to survive a seven game series.

So rest up, Boogie. Don’t hurry back, despite your crazy passion to win games here and now. Learn from the Warriors, and rest wisely. It’ll help this team in the long run more than playing 35 minutes a game just to end up winded or hurt in the playoffs.