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Player in Focus: DeMarcus Cousins, his journey so far and expected impact with the LA Clippers | NBA Season 2020-21

DeMarcus Cousins with the Houston Rockets
DeMarcus Cousins with the Houston Rockets
Kunal Sethi
ANALYST
Modified 06 Apr 2021
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DeMarcus Cousins has been bouncing around the league since his injury woes began back in 2018. He signed with the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 offseason and was let go by the franchise at the end of his one-year deal.

He signed with the LA Lakers in the 2019 offseason but suffered a torn ACL in a pickup game just a couple of months before the season. He was ruled out for the entire 2019-20 season and the Lakers waived him midway through the campaign.

He signed with the Houston Rockets earlier this season, but after playing 25 games with the team, he decided to part ways with them as well. After several weeks of speculation, DeMarcus Cousins has signed a 10-day contract with the LA Clippers.

Role with the LA Clippers

DeMarcus Cousins with the Houston Rockets
DeMarcus Cousins with the Houston Rockets

DeMarcus Cousins' days of exploding for 30 points and 15+ rebounds are behind him. He is expected to be the second or third option at center for the LA Clippers. If he shows enough caliber and develops chemistry with the team, he could eventually sign a season-long deal and replace Ivica Zubac in the second unit.

Clippers starting center Serge Ibaka has been struggling with injuries this season. He suffered a severe back injury earlier this season and hasn't played in the last eleven games. Coach Tyronn Lue said Ibaka is yet to take part in 5-on-5 drills and his return date is unknown.

With Ibaka out for the foreseeable future, Cousins could see more playing time than expected. Although Zubac has done a great job filling in for Ibaka, DeMarcus Cousins is certainly a more dynamic player.

Season so far

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Cousins has been quite underwhelming this season. He averaged 9.6 points on 37.6% shooting from the floor and grabbed a career-low 7.6 rebounds per game for the Houston Rockets.

His game has changed significantly due to injuries and that has hampered his efficiency from the floor. Once a low-post stud, Cousins is shooting more three-pointers than ever before. 55% of his field-goal attempts this season are from beyond the arc, which isn't ideal for a guard, let alone a 6'11" center.

He is making 33.6% of his three-pointers on roughly 4.6 attempts per game. While he has been ineffective in most games, he did have an amazing outing against the Dallas Mavericks in January. He scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, his first 20-point double-double since April 2019.

Strengths and Weaknesses

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DeMarcus Cousins is significantly better offensively than he is on the defensive end. He could be an ideal pick-and-roll partner off the bench for the Clippers. His shooting ability makes him a threat from anywhere on the floor and defenders will hesitate on the defensive switch as he can get to the rim if needed.

Cousins is an underrated passer. He usually makes the correct decision with the ball and finds open shooters and cutters with ease. He is the perfect player for a dribble handoff as he can either shoot or set a screen after a return pass.

DeMarcus Cousins argues with a referee
DeMarcus Cousins argues with a referee

One of Cousins' biggest drawbacks is his temperament. Cousins has had 169 technical fouls and 16 ejections in his career, including two this season in just 25 games.

DeMarcus Cousins has developed a reputation for being a hot-headed, emotional player who loves to pick fights with opponents. Even when he is doing something seemingly harmless, his reputation ensures that referees call a technical on him.

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Expectations from DeMarcus Cousins going forward

DeMarcus Cousins isn't your typical center. He doesn't play elite defense as most big men do, and his blocking averages have gone down in recent years. The LA Clippers cannot expect a rim-protecting role from the four-time All-Star.

Cousins' season so far hasn't given much confidence to LA Clippers fans. In the 25 games he played, he scored double-digit points just 10 times and grabbed double-digit rebounds just eight times. The silver lining, as mentioned earlier, is the game against the Mavericks where he showed a glimpse of his past self.

DeMarcus Cousins can chip in with roughly 10-12 points and 8-11 rebounds per game. Even the slightest contribution will elevate the already star-studded LA Clippers. He will enjoy a more relaxed role once Serge Ibaka returns from injury.

Based on the fact that he only signed a 10-day contract, it remains to be seen whether he will don a Clippers jersey during the playoffs. DeMarcus Cousins' performances in these few games will determine his future with the team.

Also Read: Player in Focus: Montrezl Harrell and his journey so far with the LA Lakers | NBA Season 2020-21

Published 06 Apr 2021, 01:11 IST
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