DeMarcus Cousins is exceeding expectations so far in 10 games for the Golden State Warriors.
The Golden State Warriors signed DeMarcus Cousins to a virtually no-risk, one-year deal in the offseason and through the first 10 games, that bet is paying off handsomely for the defending NBA champions. Cousins made his season debut in the starting lineup on January 18 against the Los Angeles Clippers and he has performed better than expected.
In roughly 23 minutes a game, Cousins is putting up 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. He’s 45.5% shooting from the field with a PER (player efficiency rating) of 20.97.
An average starting center who can put up these numbers in 23 minutes a game is immensely valuable in the NBA, but we are not talking about an average center. The fact that Cousins is hitting these statistical markers after recovering from a devastating Achilles injury makes his production that much more impressive.
Cousins will eventually play more minutes as he improves his conditioning which will lead to more production. If we look at Boogie’s numbers per-36-minutes this season (22 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.9 blocks per game and a shooting clip of 45.5% from the field) they are comparable to his career numbers (23.9 point, 12.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 46% shooting). It’s safe to say things will only get better for Cousins as the season continues.
In terms of his effect on the team, there is a noticeable improvement.
As solid as Kevon Looney is at the center spot, he does not compare to the gravity that Cousins commands. Boogie is scoring threat from nearly anywhere on the floor, but he is especially devastating near the rim. The Warriors currently rank last in the NBA in field goal attempts from less than 10 feet from the rim, and Boogie is proving to be invaluable in that department.
Cousins is also seamlessly fitting in with the Warriors ball-movement offense. His instinctual passing is impressive for a center and it would stand out more on an isolation-heavy team, but on an unselfish group like the Warriors, he ranks fourth on the team in assists per game (3.6).
Boogie’s impact on the team is really evident on the defensive end of the court. For the season, the Warriors rank 14th in defensive rating, but in the 10 games since Cousins joined the starting lineup, the team has jumped to fifth in the NBA.
For the most part, the Warriors have seamlessly integrated Cousins into the fold. His individual statistics and the team numbers have illustrated that point, but there are still issues Cousins needs to work out.
Conditioning is the main hurdle for Cousins. The team is likely monitoring his minutes very closely as he has yet to surpass 30 minutes in a game, but how Cousins looks is surely a determining factor in how much playing time he is allowed. In three games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Miami Heat, Cousins is averaging 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and shooting 42.3% from the field.
Those teams all feature above average centers in Joel Embiid, DeAndre Ayton, and Hassan Whiteside. So far, Cousins has struggled against players who can match his physicality and skill. With that said, it is encouraging that Cousins isn’t shying away from these matchups and he is likely to fare better against his competition as he gets legs under him.
Ultimately, the most important statistic for the Warriors and Cousins is 9-1. That’s the team’s record since Boogie joined the starting lineup. Even with his conditioning issues, Cousins has proven to be a stellar addition to an already star-studded team.
If Cousins can continue his gradual ascent towards his All-Star form, the Warriors will be that much more glad that they took the Boogie risk.