Will the Sacramento Kings ever make the playoffs with Cousins?
They haven’t made the playoffs once since they drafted the Boogie with the 5th overall pick in 2010. Cousins is an All-star, but he hasn’t been winning like a player of his caliber should be. Does the blame go to the lack of a good supporting cast in Sacramento? Or does Cousins himself set the team back with his flaws as a basketball player?
DeMarcus Cousins has been regarded by many as one of the most talented bigs the league has. The physical center is able to generate easy baskets from the low-post and is capable of stretching the floor was well. Offensively, he’s everything a team wants in a big man.
Looking at his team, however, one can argue that the supporting cast has not exactly been the cast that he expected them to be. Looking at last season, the Sacramento Kings had an offensive rating of 106, which was good for 15th best in the league. Their defensive rating however was near the bottom, posting a rating of 108.4, which was 22nd in the league. Looking at Boogie’s stats for the respective categories, the center posted an offensive rating and defensive rating of 103, which didn’t qualify for top 20 in the league last season. Surprisingly, he didn’t lead the Kings in offensive rating (minimum 1500 minutes played). He did however lead the team in defensive rating.
Also looking at PER for last season, Cousins, to no one’s surprise, led the team with a 23.9 PER with the second highest after Rajon Rondo with a 16.9 PER. The league average for PER is 15, and last season, and the Kings had four players within the average (Cousins, Rondo, Collison, and Gay; minimum 1500 minutes played). To put that in context, the 8th seed of last year’s Western Conference playoffs, the Houston Rockets, had only had 2 players with at least a league average of 15 PER (minimum 1500 minutes played).
Another stat that may tell a part of the story is VORP. VORP stands for Value over replacement player, which basically tells how many points per 100 possessions a certain player contributed over an average player. In simpler terms, if the Kings let’s say had an average center starting like Timofey Mozgov instead of DeMarcus, how many points more could DeMarcus have scored if he were starting compared to a Kings team with Mozgov as their center. Boogie’s VORP last season was a 2.6 which of course, led the team. To again put it in context, the second highest VORP on the 8th seeded Rockets last year belonged to Trevor Ariza who had a 2.5 VORP, only a 0.1 difference from DeMarcus Cousins. Furthermore, Houston’s James Harden had a 6.9 VORP which is significantly higher the Boogie’s 2.6 VORP. Yikes.
Of course, stats can only tell so much. Some of these stats show that the supporting cast (lack there of) didn’t help out their star big man and some of these stats also came to the conclusion that Boogie may not have been helping himself. Different factors could’ve also played a part in the Kings’ downfall such as being outmatched by other teams, consistency of other players, or even locker room issues.
The Kentucky product’s main issue deals with the intangibles. While Cousins is gifted offensively, his team and individual success takes a hit when his emotions get in the way of basketball. Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received 17 technical fouls, the most in the NBA. This season, he has 3 technicals in 12 games which means that he is on pace for around 20-21 technicals for the season. If DeMarcus had a glaring issue, his maturity when it comes to playing basketball is exactly just that. Although he has inconsistencies when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, the temper is arguably a bigger hindrance to the Sacramento Kings’ success. When their team leader is mentally out of it, the surrounding players tend to receive the same vibe and play into that mood. That’s just opinion, though.
From some fans’ perspective, the Kings story is a domino effect where the Kings’ continuous losing seasons have increased the frustrations of their star center. That is something we can possibly agree on.