Too often we expect newly acquired players to fully translate their contributions from their prior team to their new team. However, we should come to the realization that 30 points per game on one team, doesn’t mean 30 points per game on another. At least not for everyone.
When it comes to DeMarcus Cousins, we cannot anticipate his 25.2 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game averages that were amassed as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. Both he and Anthony Davis were the premier one-two punch the Pelicans needed to succeed. Since joining the Warriors this offseason, that is no longer the case.
For the first time in his career, Cousins will be joining a championship level team with four other All-Stars. He is an All-Star in his own right, making this new look Warriors team sport an unprecedented five-man All-Star starting lineup (when he returns from injury).
There will be fewer shots going up, fewer rebounds to grab and fewer assists to pile up from an individual perspective. Nevertheless, Cousins should be dominant upon his return to the team for several reasons.
An Achilles injury is one of the more daunting injuries that a player can have. The pressure required to explode, kick-off and conduct quick lateral movements are all dependent on it. Guards and wings have had trouble returning from such an injury; far less a big man.
However, with the Warriors fresh off a championship run, Cousins will have all the time in the world to fully rehab and recover. There is no pressure for the Warriors to perform at previous levels during the regular season. With a dynastic legacy in sight, every season forward with this core is championship or bust.
The main goal will be to ensure Cousins is 100%, get some games under his belt and gear up for the playoffs. Too often, teams are desperate and in panic mode before the All-Star break and the trade deadline. They reach for any jolt of new energy they can infuse into the team, often leading to premature decision making. Cousins won’t be faced with that prospect.
When he returns to action, Cousins will not be expected to achieve the same statistical heights he did last season. Per NBA.com, the Warriors averaged 322.7 passes made per game, good for 4th in the league. In comparison, the Pelicans finished 10th in that category, with 305.9 passes made per game.
In a league that sees possessions go with three passes or less, that’s at least five more possessions in favor of the Warriors. With ball movement and player movement as their bread and butter, the open man will often take the shot.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry will once again be relied upon to take them to the promised land. When such scoring pressure is taken off Cousins, he will only be expected to fill a role and be aggressive when his number is called.
DeMarcus Cousins has a unique skill set for his size. Not only can he be the modern day stretch 4/5, he can also handle the ball and make crisp passes. His massive size also allows him to be dominant in the post, where most big men don’t have the mass or girth to battle. Dating back to his days in Sacramento, he was always a beast down low.
One can consider him the best of both worlds from an offensive perspective, once you get past his short fuse. He can operate from anywhere on the floor, including running the pick and roll. With all things said, things are in Cousins’ favor to return to glory this season following his unfortunate injury. Look out for the Warriors to run one of the most complete offenses we’ve ever seen. If everything gels well, we may be looking at one of the most dominant one-season runs of all time.