Regardless of what happens to the Golden State Warriors over the next week, changes are coming to the dynasty that has had the league under siege since 2014. Contracts are coming up. Departures are on the way. Age is starting to manifest itself among key reserves. After what may have been the last playoff game Oracle Arena will ever see, things do not look good for the back to back defending champs. With the dynasty likely to end the 2020 NBA season will be a new-look Golden State franchise with a chip on their shoulders in a new setting. They should welcome this opportunity by re-signing a player whose story matches their own. DeMarcus Cousins.
This season was supposed to be Cousins’s bridge back to his second act. After suffering an injury during the best season of his career, Cousins came to Golden State as a high-reward low-risk asset. In Cousins, the Warriors had an opportunity to get a legitimate big who is a top-15 player when healthy. In Golden State, Cousins allowed himself the maximum amount of time to rehab without having to worry about a playoff push. It was also an opportunity to prove that he could be a part of a team-oriented championship formula and produce in the playoffs.
Things have clearly not gone as planned. Cousins looked respectable at times after he came back from a ruptured Achilles tendon, but was not able to get back to full speed this season. He had decent regular season numbers (16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.6 apg on 48% shooting in 30 games played) given his physical condition. The Warriors appeared to be headed towards a real-life version of fan-photoshop pictures during the free-agency time. A ruptured quad placed those hopes and Cousins back on the sidelines.
Draymond Green on DeMarcus Cousins getting dropped into the Finals after a lengthy injury rehab: "It's kind of like some kid who grew up in the suburbs going to private school and then one day you just got dropped in the hood and told to survive." Full soundbite. pic.twitter.com/Jnvcs7Bzms
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 29, 2019
After recovering from two major injuries in 18 months it is nearly a medical miracle that Cousins is even on the court at all. It is a feel-good story until you watch it. Besides an excellent game 2 where he nearly logged a triple-double, the DeMarcus Cousins wild card experiment has been a disaster. He is 9-of-28 from the field and leads the Finals with a 28 percent turnover percentage.
Cousins was thrust into a larger role than anticipated with the injury to Kevon Looney and his body has not been up to the task. His legs do not have the lift required for him to make a difference during his first NBA Finals.
Below is the uninspiring tape from Game 4. If you have any small children in the room you should tell them to cover their eyes. It’s not pretty.
So why not run it back next season?
Golden State may lose Kevin Durant and likely Kevon Looney as they take care of their contractual obligations this post-season. Shaun Livingston is considering retirement. Golden State will be in search of high impact players in the front and backcourt next season to bolster depth for the new era. Who better than a (hopefully) healthy Demarcus Cousins at a discount?
At 100% health, it is easy to see Cousins fitting seamlessly into the Golden State offensive system. At nearly 7 feet and 270 pounds, he is a unique combination of size and finesse that has the ability to distribute the basketball and keep Golden State’s free-flowing offense going. Golden State could potentially have their first big-time offensive threat in the post since their reign began 5 years ago. They won’t have the ceiling that they did with Kevin Durant but you can do a lot worse than Steph, Klay, and DeMarcus as your core on day one.
It’s a no brainer for both parties. Golden State gets an entire summer to rehab Cousins and get him ready for opening night. He will no doubt be better than the plodding shadow of himself that we have seen for the last week and a half. Cousins will get a chance to come in fully healthy and play with two of the best shooters the world has ever seen. His role will also certainly increase with Durant’s possible departure.
Probability tells us that DeMarcus Cousins and the Golden State Warriors are likely to fall short of their lofty goals this season. The roster and franchise will receive a facelift over the coming months. 2020 could be a season of redemption for both parties. Why not go at it together?