By Kings.com Fan Correspondent Alex Kramers
Past: DeMarcus Cousins turned in one of the finest rookie seasons in franchise history, leading the team in points (1,088) and rebounds (699), while breaking Lionel Simmons’ Sacramento-era rookie rebounding record. He ranked third in scoring (14.1 points per game), second in rebounds (8.6) and double-doubles (26) and fifth in steals (1.0) and blocks (0.8) among first-year players en route to earning a spot on the All-Rookie First Team.
In addition to dominating the boards and using his length to contest shots, the 6-foot-11 center instantly established himself as an offensive force in the post. He presented frequent mismatches for opposing big men by creating his own shot with a variety of finesse and power moves around the basket, displayed exceptional footwork in the paint, outstanding ball handling and court vision typically reserved for backcourt players. Highly active and aggressive on the block, Cousins ranked 24th in the NBA in free-throw attempts per 48 minutes – ahead of All-Stars Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce and Pau Gasol – among players who appeared in at least 25 games.
Present: The Kings big man has looked fit and trim after playing in numerous summer exhibition games. He dropped 33 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while facing Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Zach Randolph in the Goodman League vs. Indy League Pro-Am Game, showing his handle, explosiveness and soft shooting touch. In the Drew League vs. Goodman League All-Stars showdown, he used quick spin-moves and drop-steps to get separation from defenders and dropped the hammer on a few thunderous slams. Cousins also led the University of Kentucky pros with 28 points and 14 rebounds in an exhibition contest vs. the Dominican Republic team in mid-August and poured in 42 points in the Goon Squad Classic in November.
Future: With increased playing time and a greater familiarity with the NBA game – which will go hand-in-hand with staying out of foul trouble and cutting down his turnovers – the multifaceted Cousins is well on his way to averaging more than 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists – a feat accomplished by only 26 sophomores in NBA history. The last five – Elton Brand, Antoine Walker, Grant Hill, Vin Baker and Chris Webber – each went on to make multiple All-Star appearances, providing yet another sign of Cousins’ immense potential.
In fact, Cousins, who exhibits such a rare combination of strength, power and coordination, is talented enough to develop into one of the most uniquely dominant centers in the NBA. After watching the Kings big man pour in 33 points and grab 14 rebounds in last year’s All-Star Weekend Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, former MVP and 10-time All-Star David Robinson came away so impressed he momentarily struggled to pinpoint the player from his era whom Cousins most closely resembles. After a few seconds, Robinson recognized a parallel between Cousins and a former bruiser with a similarly diverse and crafty skill-set – Hall-of-Famer, three-time MVP and six-time rebounding champion Moses Malone.