Editor's note: This article is part of a continuing series in which Insider Bill Herenda highlights a different Kings player every day leading up to the 2014-15 season opener on Oct. 29
Contract status: Under contract through 2017-18. (Selected by Sacramento with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft out of Kentucky.)
2013-14 in review: Cousins had career high averages, and team highs of 22.7 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per game. He ranked ninth in scoring in the NBA and fifth in rebounding. Started in all 71 games he appeared, averaging 31.4 minutes per game. Scored in double-figures in 67 games, including 20 or more points in 48 appearances, and 30 or more in 15. Secured 10 or more rebounds in 53 games. Set Sacramento era record for double doubles in a single season (53), surpassing Chris Webber (50) in 2000-01. Missed two games due to NBA suspensions. Tied for league lead in technical fouls (16) along with Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant.
2014-15 outlook: Nothing is more critical for a turnaround in Sacramento than Cousins’ potential emergence as the best big man in the NBA, and his maturation.
A double-double machine in his first four years in the league, averaging 17.9 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game, talent has never been the question. However, Cousins' fiery demeanor, suspensions, and well-documented technical fouls -- e.g., leading the league along with Griffin and Durant last season -- have been.
Coach Michael Malone says he and Cousins share many personality traits, including an intense desire to win. Malone responded when asked what separates Cousins as the best big man in the NBA, saying,“There’s nothing DeMarcus cannot do on the floor.”
Therein lies the key: Ensuring Cousins is on the floor.
The maturity of Cousins, who is now 24 years old, seems to be occurring. Along with Kings teammate Rudy Gay, the former Kentucky Wildcat is eager to leverage the Team USA Gold Medal experience, in which he averaged 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in nine games (13.8 minutes per game). Bringing that team’s culture to Sacramento, namely the concept of team and defense, are the two key ingredients that Sacramento desperately needs.
Cousins himself also seems more comfortable in his own skin, saying, “I’m not perfect, and I may never be perfect, but I’m committed to being the best leader I can be for this team.”
The accolades don’t end with Malone. Newly acquired big man Ryan Hollins says that he has never seen or played with a big man as talented as Cousins, who is “right up there” with Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki; his teammates in Boston and Dallas, respectively.
Hollins, a Clipper last season, cited Cousins’ emerging maturity, having competed against him last season. He added that Cousins needs to sustain it.
Malone’s early training camp read on the Kings roster that features 13 new players that were not in Sacramento’s training camp last season could prove beneficial to Cousins. “This group is much better at policing themselves… and has a competitive spirit,” said the Kings head coach.
When asked where his intense passion and fire comes from, Cousins responds, “I just hate losing.”
In short, Cousins’ value to the Kings on the floor is invaluable. His responsibility to his teammates and the franchise by exercising self-restraint must take precedence over the spontaneous on the court indiscretions in the heat of battle when provoked by an opponent or an official.
It’s really the only way for Sacramento and DeMarcus to avoid the losing he detests.
C Sim Bhullar
G Deonte Burton
F Omri Casspi
G Darren Collison
C DeMarcus Cousins
F Reggie Evans
F Rudy Gay
C Ryan Hollins
G Trey Johnson
F Carl Landry
G Ray McCallum
G Ben McLemore
F Eric Moreland
G Ramon Sessions
G Nik Stauskas
F/C Jason Thompson
F David Wear
F Derrick Williams