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NBA Rumors: The case for and against DeMarcus Cousins joining LA Clippers

Center DeMarcus Cousins has been linked with the LA Clippers.
Center DeMarcus Cousins has been linked with the LA Clippers.
ANALYST
Modified 31 Mar 2021
Rumors

DeMarcus Cousins 2020-21 season is not over, as the latest NBA rumors suggest that the 30-year-old could be headed to the LA Clippers.

After being waived by the Houston Rockets back in February, Cousins was linked with several teams around the league who were looking to bolster their big man depth. But a month has passed, and he still hasn't been picked up. Almost a week has passed since the trade deadline, but there are still deals to be made. So this could be a big one for both DeMarcus Cousins and the LA Clippers.

According to the latest NBA rumors from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the LA Clippers are discussing a ten-day contract with the free agent, pending him clearing the league's health and safety protocols.

Meanwhile, Shams Charania of The Athletic has reported that DeMarcus Cousins is in LA and is undergoing tests before he joins the side.

On that note, let's take a look at how DeMarcus Cousins' signing could help or hinder the LA Clippers' performances going forward.

NBA Rumors: How DeMarcus Cousins could benefit the LA Clippers

DeMarcus Cousins averaged 9.6 points this season with the Houston Rockets.
DeMarcus Cousins averaged 9.6 points this season with the Houston Rockets.

Despite being third in the West and only 4.5 games off the top spot, the LA Clippers have been looking at the likes of the LA Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets in the trade market and worried if they could match their depth in the postseason if any of their stars get injured.

Therefore, bringing in DeMarcus Cousins as a backup option at the center on a short-term deal with the idea of a longer-term option could be a plausible option.

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DeMarcus Cousins was one of the premier centers in the league from 2014 to 2018, earning four All-Star appearances. But due to two injury-plagued seasons, he played only 30 games from 2018 till he signed with the Rockets prior to this year's tip-off, playing 25 games this campaign.

Cousins has proven he can be extremely efficient with his minutes, as he showed during his Golden State Warriors stint in the 2018-19 season.

Only seeing the floor for 20.2 minutes on average in Houston, DeMarcus Cousins recorded 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds, shooting at 74.6% from the line.

To relate that in the LA Clippers context, Ivica Zubac is putting up fewer points and rebounds on more minutes, while Serge Ibaka is also averaging fewer boards as their regular starter than DeMarcus Cousins.

His splits per 36 minutes are better than both of the LA Clippers' current big men. While DeMarcus Cousins would inevitably be third in the pecking order, he could be a worthy replacement when called upon.

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The most identifiable stat in this regard is his rebounding ability. Currently, the LA Clippers rank 12th in the league for boards per game with 44.3 but are in the bottom half for defensive and offensive rebounding.

DeMarcus Cousins' presence in the paint and undeniable aggressiveness to pull the ball out of the air would improve the team's fortunes in this area.

NBA Rumors: Why DeMarcus Cousins isn't the answer for the LA Clippers

DeMarcus Cousins dominated the league while with the Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins dominated the league while with the Sacramento Kings

Although DeMarcus Cousins could add depth to the LA Clippers frontcourt and provide meaningful minutes off the bench, he is yet to prove he can be the player he once was.

His injury woes would be the biggest concern for the LA Clippers. While a ten-day contract means the LA Clippers are not tied down, it also means he may not benefit Ty Lue that much should he be sidelined.

His Achilles tendon injury in 2018 and ACL tear in 2019 means DeMarcus Cousins is a pale shadow of the player who dominated the league for the Sacramento Kings.

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Despite the advancements in sports science, the fact that DeMarcus Cousins suffered both career-altering injuries on the same leg means he is no longer the player he once was. While this is extremely disheartening, it also means the LA Clippers may not be able to see 'Boogie' at his best and cannot afford to carry any players on the floor at this stage of the season.

Moreover, the LA Clippers are a top-ten defense, which doesn't exactly fit in with DeMarcus Cousins' array of talents. Modern-day centers are required to defend the paint at an elite level or be able to guard quicker opponents on the perimeter.

DeMarcus Cousins has not excelled in either area (even in his Warriors days, as shown in the video below). He has allowed 18.6 opposition points in the paint this season and has a defensive win share of only 0.9.

He has averaged only 0.7 blocks per matchup, which is 0.5 lower than his career average of 1.2.

While it could be a short-lived partnership, it is unlikely DeMarcus Cousins would be an option the LA Clippers may need in the playoffs. His inability to guard the league's best like Jokic, Gobert and Ayton, to name a few, makes DeMarcus Cousins a potential liability for the LA Clippers.

Published 31 Mar 2021, 23:19 IST
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