Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Early look at Cousins shows big, talented, emotional young man

It’s safe no player in the 2010 NBA Draft attracted more attention than Kings’ first-round draft choice DeMarcus Cousins.

Granted, it’s early. Cousins’ professional career begins tonight with the Kings’ first preseason game tonight at Arco Arena against the Phoenix Suns.

However, so far, and again, it is so early, what I’ve seen from Cousins is a determined, fearless, highly-intense competitor on the floor and a big, soft, friendly, thoughtful teddy-bear type of young man off the court.

He’s emotional and it doesn’t take long for his feelings to reveal themselves externally. He’ll likely be one of the early tests for the NBA’s attempted cut down on players’ outwardly visible reactions to officials’ calls.

Does being an emotional young man and wearing said emotions on his sleeve make him a bad person? No, at the worst, potentially it might make him Rasheed Wallace Lite.

For whatever the value of initial impressions, perhaps Cousins should be Pooh Two, since Kings rookie point guard Eugene Jeter's grandmother already tagged him with the moniker.

Perhaps the pair can be Little Pooh and Big Pooh.

Preceding the draft, Cousins’ personality and demeanor were the objects of more direct hits than your local drinking establishment's dartboard.

Cousins, who turned 20 Aug. 13, was considered, even by his critics, to be the draft’s second-most talented player behind his Kentucky teammate John Wall, the overall No. 1 choice, selected by the Washington Wizards.

Yet, the size-desperate Kings were criticized across the board for selecting Cousins with the draft’s fifth choice overall.

On the court, Cousins has much as much to learn as he brings to the table. As with most young players, it’s important to consistently remember, he just turned 20 years old.

Back in the day, players had the luxury/reality of college years and experience. Cousins spent just one season at Kentucky. For perspective, check out your life at 20.

Imagine it being on stage for everyone to see. On second thought, personally, I'll pass on that concept.

Here's Cousins speaking with reporters following Monday’s practice. Cousins, listed at 6-foot-11, 270 pounds, chased a loose ball Sunday night at Arco. He ended up in the crowd.

“I really wanted to send out an apology,” Cousins said when asked about the incident. “I tried to dodge the kid and ended up mushing the lady in the face. I had to choose who I would rather hurt. I want to apologize to them. I felt bad for doing that.

The Sacramento Bee reported the pair’s names to be Erin Thurman and Tyner, her four-year son. They might want to call the Kings media relations staff to see if they can score a pair of tickets for a future game and perhaps even procure the chance to meet Cousins.

I'm guessing Tyner and Cousins would enjoy each other. Cousins possesses a wonderful sense of humor and clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously. I’m guessing Cousins likes and gets along well with kids.

“I’m trying to get the ball,” he said of the pursuit into the front row. “I thought I broke the lady’s neck. I was really scared that I’d hurt the lady’s neck. I guess that comes with courtside seats.”

That it does, but I’m guessing the pair would go for the same opportunity again.

Coach Paul Westphal complimented Cousins’ performance in the scrimmage and also said he’s done well in previous scrimmages.

Cousins said his major preseason goal is to find his role on the team.

DeMarcus, allow me to give you a little insight. Be a beast around the basket. Continue to display your wide array of skills and play hard.

Said one NBA executive who asked for anonymity, “Cousins is more than just a scorer and rebounder. He really can pass the ball and he seems like he likes to do it. In some ways, he’s similar to (Chris) Webber. I don’t think he can shoot the ball as well as Chris, and I don’t think he’s as long. But as far as the unselfish mentality, I think they are very similar.”

Cousins said Monday he’s excited about playing his first preseason game.

“I am looking forward to it,” he said of going against the Suns. “We’re tired of looking at each other’s faces, guarding the same players. It’ll be nice to get a change.”

Cousins and Jason Thompson likely will log many of the minutes at the center position. Samuel Dalembert, an off-season acquisition from Philadelphia for center Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni, will miss the game with a strained left adductor muscle.

The adductor is a group of muscles around the thigh and hip.

Connor Atchley, 6-foot-11, also likely will get playing time. Seven-foot rookie center-forward Hassan Whiteside is out for a few days with a strained left patellar tendon. Darnell Jackson, 6-9, of whom Westphal has spoken highly in recent days, also will not play because of a strained right hip flexor.

Westphal said Thompson will receive minutes this season at center, and particularly tonight.

“I think he will play some ‘five’ for us this year,” the coach said of the 6-foot-11 particularly (tonight) with Jackson and Dalembert both out. We’ll see him quite a bit.

“It might be kind of ugly if DeMarcus had to play 48 minutes, or 40 minutes or 30 minutes,” Westphal said with a laugh.

Rookies normally receive few breaks from referees with big, aggressive rookies receiving even fewer. It’s part of the learning process that Cousins already understands is coming. That doesn’t mean he’ll remember that in the heat of battle.

Westphal announced J.R. Giddens and Donald Sloan were waived. That leaves 17 players on the roster with the team currently looking to keep, “somewhere between 13 and 15,” according to the coach.

“I hope (Suns all-star point guard Steve) Nash doesn’t play as far as winning” the coach kidded. “I don’t even care who we play. We’re more in the mode of evaluating personnel.

“We want to do certain things against anybody we play. We want to take care of the ball. We want to get the ball inside. We want to play good defense and rebound and certainly, you play good defense, you have to have good transition defense, which you have to have every night.

That’ll be interesting to see how that holds up.”

It will be interesting to see how Cousins fares during his introduction to NBA battle.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Post. I am hopeful the Kings have struck gold a second time with Cousins. If he can be an effective inside presence, something Hawes never was and never will be, then the Kings are already looking better this year than they did last season. Cousins rebounds on both ends, can play inside and absorb contact, and seems to be a very effective power forward. I think the comparisons to Webber are premature, but I do believe he is going to be an effective player. How effective remains to be seen..