[It’s March of 2011. A disenchanted DeMarcus Cousins is mindlessly taking part in a layup drill during a practice at ARCO Arena/ Power Balance Pavilion/ Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento]
Paul Westphall: Ah, yeah, what’s up DeMarcus. Um, I understand there’s been a few questions about your efforts on the glass? Yeah, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and fix that by participating in some rebounding drills, um-kay? Greaaat. Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and practice on Sunday, too…
[Cousins says nothing, fumes, and goes off to take part in the rebounding drills with Assistant Coach Keith Smart]
DeMarcus Cousins: Hey, guys.
Tyreke Evans: What’s up, G?
Marcus Thornton: Oh, it’s a little early.
DeMarcus Cousins: I gotta get outta here. I think I’m gonna lose it.
Keith Smart: Uh-oh. Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.
[Flash-forward to December 2011. DeMarcus has his uniform untucked, a headband over his eyes, and his shoes untied with his feet up on an empty chair on the bench, munching chips and playing “Angry Birds” on his iPhone instead of paying attention during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers]
Paul Westphall: So, DeMarcus, what’s happening? Aahh, now, are you going to go ahead and show me those rebounding efforts for us tonight?
DeMarcus Cousins: No.
Paul Westphall: Ah. Yeah. So I guess we should probably go ahead and have a little talk. Hmm?
DeMarcus Cousins: Not right now, Westphall, I’m kinda busy. In fact, look, I’m gonna have to ask you to just go ahead and come back another time. I got a meeting with the Maloofs at halftime.
Paul Westphall: I wasn’t aware of a meeting with them.
DeMarcus Cousins: Yeah, they just texted me.
We all know what happened next. Cousins succeeded in getting Westphall fired and demanded a trade as the Kings marched on to another season of bleh.
It was the Lockout season, and despite all that Cousins came into camp in great shape and seemingly primed to bust out. And he did, averaging 18.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.5 spg and 1.2 bpg. But beyond the stats the 2011-2012 season was a train wreck rolled inside a Hindenberg wrapped around a scene where Jesse gets beat up on “Breaking Bad.” There was an incident with a cameraman, shady texting with a ladyfriend and a dozen technicals on the court. Cousins went on to have a nice year in 2012-2013, but the Kings didn’t, and so Smart was fired.
So now here we are on the cusp of another season where Cousins is set to break out to another level. So what’s different? Why should we believe?
Because Mike Malone, wunderkind assistant coach under Mark Jackson for the Golden State Warriors, has taken over. And because Malone likes Cousins, and Cousins likes Malone. It also didn’t hurt that new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive inked Cousins to a 4-year max deal.
Is there any reason to believe that Cousins won’t average at least 20 and 10 this year? And he has to be good for somewhere around a block and a steal per game, right?
I’m thankful that JB ran this column after my recent fantasy draft. Thanks to posts like this one, and others that talk about how Cousins is going to put it together, the No. 5 pick in the 2010 real-life NBA draft is quickly becoming less of a steal in the mid-rounds of fantasy drafts and more of a climber into the second or third.
[It’s training camp heading into the 2013-2014 NBA season. DeMarcus Cousins and new teammate Greivis Vasquez are shooting free throws hours after practice has ended]
DeMarcus Cousins: This isn’t so bad, huh? Makin’ bucks, gettin’ exercise, workin’ toward havin’ a halfway decent season?
Greivis Vasquez: F***in’ A.
DeMarcus Cousins: (nodding) F***in’ A.