Paul Westphal. Keith Smart. Michael Malone. Tyrone Corbin. George Karl. And now Dave Joeger. DeMarcus Cousins is on his seventh coach in his seventh season in the NBA, gaining the reputation as a coach killer. The antics and passive-aggressiveness (or sometimes just plain aggressiveness) towards his coaches and officials along with his continued employment by a horribly mismanaged team in a small market have distracted some from the immense talent that is Boogie Cousins.
At 7-feet tall, 270 pounds, he’s always been able to bully pretty much any defender on the low block. His ascension to a bona fide star and top-5 scorer has been aided by the evolution of his outside shot. Last season was the first time he really incorporated the 3-point shot into his game; his previous career high for attempts was only 22 in 2012-13. About 20% of his shot attempts are now coming from distance, easily the highest mark of his career, and he’s been making 38% of them.
This percentage is certain to regress to the mean at some point. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the addition of the 3-point shot had transformed Andrew Wiggins’ game. Through nine games he was leading the league in 3p% at over 54%. That number was certain to come down, and he’s settled in at 39% through twenty games, but the improvement is still marked. Boogie’s involvement with the gold medal run on Team USA seems to have sparked a renaissance within himself. He will never a complete robot like Kawhi Leonard, but if his Olympic stint proved anything, it’s that he can work within a team system and keep a (relatively) positive attitude if he’s in the right environment.
Boogie seems outwardly unhappy in Sacramento which has led to the constant stream of trade speculation fodder. It’s been reported that he’s not willing to re-sign with the Kings, something that may explain their recent draft picks of other big men, ostensibly looking for his future replacement with the selections of Willie Cauley-Stein, Georgios Papagiannis, and Skal Labissiere prompting him to tweet this:
The logjam at center, if you can really call it that when only Boogie is a quality player, has necessitated that Cousins spend a good portion of his minutes at the power forward spot for the first time in his career (39% according to Basketball-Reference). This move allows him to hunt shots on the perimeter, while also saving him from the interior banging from centers every night. There isn’t a 4 in the league that can stop Boogie on the low block, but the thing is, there are not really any 5s that can either.
Vlade Divac’s spell as head man in Sacramento has proven rather rudderless, and with Boogie entering the last season of his contract, the Kings either need to show him that they will be able to build a contender around him (unlikely), or to cut ties and start over. The Celtics theoretically have the #ValuableAssets to get a deal done, and super-fan Bill Simmons has been lobbying for Cousins for years. He would bring a real star to Brad Stevens’ merry band of sixth men, and his 28/11/3 would instantly catapult them past the Raptors into a real contender opposite LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Of course, this all has to go through the owner, who is understandably against trading away his best player. It behooves both Vivek Ranadive and the league office to have a marketable player in one of the smallest cities in the league, especially in their first year in a new arena. I, for one, am #TeamChaos but we really need to see Boogie in the playoffs, wherever it may be.
Thoughts About The Thoughts
Brian: I’m not sure if I added this in a Thought before, but I am fascinated by Novak Djokovic’s guru-who-isn’t-a-guru, and I wonder if the next #Analytics revolution will be centered around heightening the mental game in the four major sports. Cousins’ performance in the Olympics suggested he can just turn his focus on whenever he wants, so it’d be interesting to see if the Kings recruit somebody to help maximize that ability.
Brock: Janitor Boogie is seriously challenging Roc Divers as the NBA’s best doppelgänger.