Among mere mortals not named Steph Curry, nobody can single handedly devastate an opponent and fill out a box score like DeMarcus Cousins. With his constantly expanding array of offensive weapons, Cousins has shown improvement every year of his young career and seemingly adds a new facet to his game with each new season.
DeMarcus’ statistical dominance has garnered more attention nationally this year, because the Sacramento Kings are looming as a serious threat for playoff contention for the first time in a decade. Cousins’ eye popping averages of 27.3 points and better than 11 rebounds per night along with the consistently brilliant play and leadership of newcomer Rajon Rondo have served as the fulcrum for the Kings’ new found relevance in 2015-16.
Those who don’t get the opportunity to watch Cousins on a regular basis may think the 6’11”, 270 lb. center is a throwback back to the basket big. But his post game is just a part of his well rounded arsenal.
In addition to his dominant post attack, Cousins is also a nightmare to defend in the midrange area as he is a more than capable jump shooter from there. If the defense closes hard on his shot, DeMarcus has the agility and quick feet to put it on the floor and attack the rim. He is a maestro on the receiving end of the pick and roll or pick and pop, with both options creating massive strain for NBA defenses.
In my opinion, his hands are the best the league has seen since former Sacramento King Chris Webber. The catches he frequently makes in traffic would make Rob Gronkowski proud. Oh, and as if all that wasn’t sufficient, this year he added a formidable three point shot to his repertoire as well.
Just as importantly, Cousins effort and production on the defensive end has been noticeably enhanced the last two seasons. His help rotations have been quicker and better defined, and has led the NBA in charges drawn two years consecutively.
DeMarcus Cousins has firmly established himself as a top five player in the entire league, and is just 25 years old. He’s still 2-3 years away from being in his prime, a frightening proposition for the rest of the league to digest. When I watch Boogie play from time to time, I find myself being reminded of similarities between he and Kings’ legend Chris Webber. I feel at this point in his young career, a real argument could be made that DeMarcus Cousins is better than Chris Webber was during his prime years with the Kings.
They both were enormous talents coming out of high school. Both were top recruited big men who chose historically great universities to play for. Both left college early and were high selections in their respective NBA Drafts. Both were extremely skilled, both had excellent mid range shots, respectable three point shots, outstanding hands, both were gifted and often times willing passers, both possess high basketball IQ, and their career averages are incredibly similar (Cousins 19.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, Webber 20.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.2 apg).
In Webber’s defense, Sacramento made the playoffs each of the six years he was a King. Obviously Cousins has yet to lead the Kings to the playoffs, but he also hasn’t had the benefit of playing alongside the caliber of players Chris did. One could also argue that Chris Webber was the ring leader of the Greatest Show on Court, a pass first, unselfish aggregation of talent that played the game the right way, competed blow for blow with the Shaq & Kobe Lakers and will likely go down as one of the best teams in NBA history to have not won a championship.
In a lot of ways DeMarcus Cousins is the antithesis of Webber in that regard. The man they call Boogie is as well known for his temper tantrums and technical fouls as he is for his nightly assault on the box score. Some would argue Cousins is an irascible, cantankerous young man who spends far too much time complaining to refs about missed foul calls. Though it appears the miasma of the Sacramento Kings has improved significantly this year, there are still nights where Cousins creates as much harm as good because of his poor attitude.
The interesting aspect of the comparison is the Sacramento Kings was already the third team Chris Webber had played for, having been traded after his rookie year by the Golden State Warriors and then later the Washington Wizards dealing him to the Kings after growing tired of his off the court antics and legal issues. Ironically Webber was 25 when he arrived in Sacramento, the same age DeMarcus is now.
Player for player, I do feel DeMarcus Cousins is a better overall talent than Chris Webber ever was. Top five players in the league should equal playoffs virtually by themselves, regardless of how competitive their respective conference is. But as the unquestioned best player and the leader of the team, until he gets the Kings to the playoffs, the argument is largely irrelevant.