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"Hold on, I said with all due respect"
"That doesn't mean you get to say whatever you want to say to me"
"Sure as heck does"


Sometimes, the world doesn't make sense. Through an odd set of circumstances, a 25 year old, near seven foot, top 10 NBA talent on a good contract might be available, and there is somehow a portion of Celtics fans who do not want him. With all due respect, if you don't think DeMarcus Cousins is worth the Brooklyn Nets' first round pick you're out of your mind.

But for the sake of an argument, let's point-counterpoint this.

DeMarcus Cousins is a hot-head!


This is true. While by all accounts he's not a bad guy, there's no denying that DeMarcus Cousins is certainly temperamental; consistently finding himself near the top of the list in technical fouls (though never exceeding 16) and he's always good for an occasional on-court outburst.

That's been a pretty frequent topic of conversation around Celtics fans. So frequent that a standard counter has been developed: 25 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.7 blocks a game. 6 foot 11. 25 years old.

Or, why does this matter so much? Why are people so bothered by this? Yes, Cousins absolutely has warts. But does the occasional flare up really offset the rest of the package? Are we not willing to accept 25 points and 12 rebounds out of a 25 year old pure center because he once temporarily walked out of a practice because he was frustrated with a foul call?

Here's SBNation's Tom Ziller, probably the most qualified Cousins scribe out there, on DMC's attitude:

DeMarcus Cousins is unquestionably a difficult adult. He's also definitely worth the trouble.

The stories about how miserable a human Cousins can be are traded like ghost stories among the NBA staffers who escape Sacramento. Yet Wednesday's game was a master class on why you put up with Boogie's outbursts and the drama that seems to hover over him.

He rediscovered his three-point stroke against the Pistons, shooting 4 for 5 from beyond the line. Back in the Kings' opener two weeks ago, Cousins also hit 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. He missed nine straight over the next three games he played before Wednesday. On the season, he's above 40 percent. That, plus his interior skill and strength, his agility and court vision off of the dribble, his rebounding and (at times) his defense add up to a top-10 NBA player who is 25 years old.

That's basically the only argument against trading DeMarcus Cousins: He's just too damn good. Maybe one player in each draft enters the NBA with a chance at being better. So trading Cousins for draft picks is really akin to praying for snow in the summer. I personally think the right set of prayers might be preferable to more of all this, but then I see Boogie dominate the dominant Andre Drummond and I wince. It's really hard to give up on someone this talented.
Source: Tom Ziller, SBNation

Cousins' team has been perennials losers. You can't put all of the losses on 'institutional chaos'


I'm not going to say Cousins is blameless for the Kings lack of success, but this is a lazy narrative.

Below I've listed the year by year team leaders in games started (6), along with the teams' overall record. I also added '(games started) of (games played)' if the player missed significant time, or was traded in season.

2010/11 (24 - 58): Udrih, Cousins, T. Evans (53 of 57), Dalembert, Thompson, F. Garcia (35 of 58)

2011/12 (22-44): Cousins, T. Evans, M.Thornton (51 of 51), Thompson, I. Thomas, Salmons (32 of 46)

2012/13 (28-54): Thompson, Cousins, Salmons, Thomas, Evans (61 of 82), Brooks (46 of 82)

2013/14 (28 - 54): Cousins, Thompson, McLemore, Gay (55 of 55), Thomas, M. Thornton (26 of 46)

2014/15 (29 - 53): McLemore, Gay (67 of 68), Thompson, Cousins (59 of 59), D.Collison (45 of 45), McCallum

Yes, DeMarcus Cousins has shown himself incapable of carrying a team with little to minimal support around him. But tell me how many players on the planet could've brought those rosters to a significantly better record? A few reference points

  • Last season, when he averaged 28.1 points, 8.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game Russell Westbrook couldn't lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs. Despite Kevin Durant playing 26 games, and Serge Ibaka playing 64
  • In 2006, the year he put up 81 points against the Raptors and averaged THIRTY FIVE points a game, Kobe Bryant could only lead the Lakers to a 42-40 record
  • Kevin Garnett missed the playoffs in his three final seasons in Minnesota

The NBA absolutely is a superstar driven league, but that superstar - provided his names not Lebron James - needs some level of supporting talent around him. Cousins could technically be a 'perennial loser', it's unlikely, but his career record isn't definitive evidence of that.

About that roster...


It's not just the level of talent that's been an issue for the Kings, it's the type of players that they're bringing in. They've made doing the things he's very good at (using his size and strength in the pain) surprisingly difficult on him.

To date, he's been strapped with ball stopping perimeter players (Tyreke, Salmons, Thornton, Thomas, Gay), and bigs who can't space the floor (Thompson, Dalembert. In lesser roles Reggie Evans, Quincy Acy, Carl Landry).

Take a look at this highlight video from this past Wednesday in a game against the Pistons. Two things stick out to me, neither of which are the three pointers. The game footage starts 50 seconds in.




  1. There's a play at the 1:15 mark where Cousins sets a pick for Rajon Rondo, takes one step to dive at the hoop but sees Willie Cauley Stein in the paint. He has to stop momentarily. He then goes to post up his man when he realizes he's about 5 feet from the basket, but has to back out after he sees Willie Cauley Stein set up for a pick and roll with the ball handler.
  2. When Cousins does get to operate alone with space, it's almost unfair. He's too big, too strong, and too fast for his opponent. It's like a big brother toying w/ a much younger sibling. Watch the play at 1:50: He drives by his man, stops, does an up and under, and doesn't even have to jump to lay the ball in. 
Which is all to say "Why in the world has DeMarcus Cousins not gotten the opportunity to play for a 4-out, Magic era Dwight Howard styled offense?:How is it possible that in five years, with three dozen coaches, not once has someone designed an offense that capitalizes on Cousins' strength, size and passing ability? 

Two further notes on that:
  • The season is still young, but in 148 minutes of play Cousins has spent just south of 80% of his playing time with either Willie Cauley-Stein or Kosta Koufos. I don't think I need to share their shot charts for you to understand the space they're occupying
  • Jason Thompson only shot about 1/3rd of his shots outside of the paint (I listed his shot chart from last season below), and has attempted just 27 three point attempts in his 7 years (and hit just one). That's not to say Jason Thompson isn't a good player, just not a really great pairing for Cousins.

Ever Heard of the Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins trade, bruh?


This is the best argument against trading Brooklyn's pick for DeMarcus Cousins. Put the other stuff aside, trading one of the top pick in the draft - a player with plenty of upside, who you can control for seven years - even for a proven top NBA talent is a risky proposition, and the Cavaliers are feeling that pain right now. That's your best anti-Cousins argument.

That doesn't mean it's the right argument. Let's put aside the Cousins vs. Love argument for now (I think Cousins is a significantly better player because his offense is more-easily adaptable, and he's a much better defender) there's two major arguments against this.

  1. The Wiggins for Love trade is the first time in NBA history where a team gave up a perceived top 10 talent for draft picks and won. 
  2. The Cleveland Cavaliers mitigated the risk of the NBA draft by selecting a proven asset, even though they lost.
The latter point is the one I'd like to leave you with. Yes, the Cleveland Cavaliers definitively lost the trade. Their consolation prize: A 27 year old, 3 time all star who's currently averaging over 17 points and 12 rebounds a game. 

There's inherent risks associated with the draft. You don't know how even the most seeming things will develop in the pros. Think about last year, the Cavaliers would've rather have Wiggins than Love, but what about the next 4 guys? Parker, Embiid, Gordon and Exum? 

The unknown presents a level of excitement, because it represents an unlimited ceiling. It's important to remember risk though. Here's how I look at it; How ridiculously incredible would a player have to look at the college-level where you feel comfortable turning down a 25 year old, proven commodity who is putting up 25 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.7 blocks a game today?

To me, it's a simple answer; Give me the known commodity

MattDotRich 11/13/2015 11:44:00 AM Edit
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