DeMarcus Cousins has only continued to see his numbers improve yet the Kings keep struggling in finding ways to win.
In the Rio Olympics with Team USA, Cousins was in a different country, leaving with an unfamiliar feeling: winning. Cousins was one of the driving forces to the United States coming out with gold in the Olympics.
“Boogie played well,” Kings GM Vlade Divac said to The Boston Globe. “He’s a very talented kid. Hopefully he can bring that positive attitude that he had here to Sacramento next year.”
Cousins saved his best game for the biggest stage. Playing against Divac's home country of Serbia, Cousins scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the gold game for Team USA.
Since being drafted by the Kings with the No. 5 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Cousins has seen nothing but turnover in Sacramento. The Kings have gone through five head coaches -- Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Mike Malone, Tyrone Corbin, and George Karl -- since Cousins' arrival, and his headbutting with Karl was regularly on public display. The Kings brought in former Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger this offseason to add to the list, and Divac has high hopes Cousins' Olympic experience will translate over to Sacramento this season.
“[The Olympics] helps international guys but it also helps NBA guys,” Divac said. “You see a different part of basketball. They can pick up some tricks. That’s how I look at it. When I used to play, I loved playing international because it’s more freedom and more ability to improve.”
Cousins both started and came off the bench in Team USA's eight games in Rio, putting up solid numbers. In 14.6 minutes per game, Cousins averaged 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. His play, however, has never been in question.
Divac says it's "no question" Cousins is one of the best centers in the NBA and that the mental side of the game for him is only getting better. “For the media and people outside, they’re always questioning him. I don’t know why, because people change and he changed a lot the past couple of years since I’ve been over there," Divac said.
While winning has been far from consistent for Cousins with the Kings, he has certainly felt it before at the University of Kentucky, but nothing he has experienced compared to winning the gold.
“It’s all worth it at the end of the day,” Cousins said on winning gold. “All the B.S., everything we went through. Everybody went through their own little type of adversity. This is the best feeling ever, honestly. This is the best feeling ever.”
As the president of the Olympic Committee of Serbia, Divac had a strong presence in Rio. With his star player vying for a gold on Team USA, it was bittersweet for him to see Cousins get the better of Serbia. But for Cousins, he made sure to take advantage of the opportunity.
Asked if he spoke to Divace after winning gold, Cousins didn't mince his words. “Did I talk to Vlade? Yeah, he told me congratulations and I told him I told you so."