Every four years, an opportunity presents itself for the best athletes in the world to compete in their respective sports, the Olympics. Since earning bronze in the 2004 Athens Olympics, Team USA Basketball has dominated the past two Olympics by earning gold and winning by an average of 35.4 points per game.
After constructing the most dominant team in USA basketball history in London, team USA will take significant losses to the roster in 2016.
Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, John Wall and James Harden have all opted out.
With big men Davis, Aldridge and Griffin opting out, it leaves the paint duties to All- Star DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins was apart of the gold medal winning 2014 FIBA World Championship team and averaged 9.8 points and 5.7 rebounds over nine games.
“I’m very excited, I’ve always wanted to be on the Olympic team,” Cousins said. “I finally got the chance, so I’m honored, I’m happy, I can’t wait to play.”
Cousins averaged career-highs last season in points per game (26.9), steals per game (1.6), three-point percentage (.333) and minutes per game (34.6). Cousins provides Team USA with an abundance of versatility.
Considering Cousins is the fourth leading scorer in the NBA and a 2x All-Star, this will be his time to show that he is capable of being a leader.
Cousins has shown that he is capable of producing by himself for the Kings but has not been able to play a major role for Team USA up to this day. There will not be a better time in his career than right now.
“I feel like your role changes every year for that team (Team USA),” Cousins said. “Whatever it takes, whatever I’m needed to do on the team, that’s what I’m going to do.”
With the Kings moving into the new Golden 1 Center next season and the Olympics just before, Cousins needs this for his career.
Always being portrayed as a guy who can’t keep his emotions leveled and putting his team in difficult situations, Cousins has the opportunity to flip the script in 2016.
Proving that he is capable of leading will bring more attention to Sacramento and help his team become an attractive destination in free agency. Or at least have a positive affect in free agency.
Team USA is a great way for players to grow and to really consume what it is to be a star at the international level where millions will watch. Adding a gold medal in the Olympics to his resume will give him a boost of confidence as far as tasting success again and that might be just what the Kings need.
I believe Cousins can come out this summer with a greater mindset and an ability to lead a team in a way that many of his peers on his level have.
// Team USA opens up its two-week showcase around the United States making its first stop in Las Vegas, July 22nd against Argentina.