While DeMarcus Cousins is currently representing his country as a member of Team USA, there is also plenty of reason to be excited for his return to Sacramento leading up to the start of the 2016-17 NBA season.
Boogie logged another outstanding season with the Kings during his 2015-16 campaign, averaging 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds to go with 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game.
His prolific season earned him a second consecutive All-Star selection and also helped solidify his case for being the best big man in the NBA (despite what the All-NBA selections may say).
One of the biggest improvements fans saw in Cousins’ game last season was his shooting range. Though Cousins has had a reliable mid-range game, he expanded his arsenal out to beyond the arc.
This added element of offense has helped Cousins become one of the most versatile players for his size in the Association. It is a rarity to see players with his ability to bully defenders down on the low block who can also step out to knock down 3-pointers.
One shining example of Cousins unleashing every aspect of his repertoire was during his career-high 56-point performance against the Charlotte Hornets last season. Cousins was giving the Hornets fits all game as he frequently powered through multiple defenders and contact in the paint to get bucket after bucket.
While many centers in the NBA wouldn’t be comfortable taking defenders off-the-dribble from the perimeter, Cousins did that multiple times against Charlotte, taking advantage of the defense respecting his shooting range.
While this amazing showcase was fun to watch for Kings fans and basketball fans alike, it seemed to be a bit of an anomaly for the season.
Cousins certainly dominated that game, which was nothing new, but it was how he dominated that seemed to stray from how the season had been going.
Under former head coach George Karl’s offense, starting point guard Rajon Rondo was a fantastic ball distributor last season and even led the NBA in total assists in 2015-16.
And while Sacramento’s offense thrived, it often times felt very improvised and without structure. This is something that Rondo could operate well in, seeing as how he is a willing facilitator with seemingly peerless passing vision.
However, Rondo and Coach Karl are both gone now and Cousins will be the focal point of a new offense being installed by head coach Dave Joerger.
Based on Coach Joerger’s days in Memphis, we could and probably will see a slowing of pace for the Kings offense, which could actually be very beneficial for Cousins.
Under Karl, Cousins often found himself having to try and create plays for himself, whether it be working out of the mid-range to try and dribble into post position, or spotting up for threes.
This came along with some frustration and difficulty as defenses keyed in on Cousins pretty quickly as he emerged as one of the only few viable offensive options for Sacramento.
Given the talent and skill level of Cousins, he was able to fight through the tough defense anyway. With Coach Joerger now at the helm, maybe Cousins won’t have to do that so often anymore.
In Memphis, Coach Joerger worked with a similar talented big man in Marc Gasol, who has several aspects of his game that are comparable to Sacramento’s All-Star.
Gasol is a big man who can score in the post, possesses a nice shooting touch, and passes well — all things that could also be said about Cousins.
Coach Joerger was able to utilize Gasol effectively in the Grizzlies’ offense, something that could translate even better for Cousins.
While Gasol is certainly one of the best bigs in the NBA, you could argue that Cousins has surpassed him recently and has even more of the speed and athleticism that could make him even more dangerous in Joerger’s offense.
Here’s a look at how the offense in Memphis was set up for Gasol to succeed.
After seeing that, fans can visualize those kinds of looks on offense for Cousins. Having a more stable half-court offense could really allow Cousins to thrive even more given the unguardable nature of his all-around game.
Now, one of the most crucial aspects to running an offense is a solid point guard, something that may not be available for the Kings right now.
Given Sacramento’s current situation at point guard with Darren Collison facing a possible suspension and rookie Isaiah Cousins looking very raw following a so-so Summer League, it could be a crucial hitch in Cousins making the leap into superstar territory in this offense.
However, with just around two months remaining until the start of training camp, there are still possible solutions out there for the Kings.
Even with the point guard problem seemingly still unresolved, the thought of Cousins getting involved into a more patient, even-tempo offensive system could mean a lot of trouble for opposing defenders in the near future.