Make no mistake, this guy has a lot of love and heart for this game. Maybe a bit too much.
The Sacramento Kings haven't really been the headline team for the past decade, and the only time they found themselves highlighted on SportsCenter was when DeMarcus Cousins threw a punch or had a few scuffles with the ex-headcoach, Paul Westphal.
Most NBA fans probably don't watch the Kings. They judge DeMarcus Cousins based on what they see on TV and what they read, but if you really do watch the young center play, you would think differently about him and his game.
Let's get some facts out of the way.
He does need to control his emotions a little bit. All the trouble that happened in the locker room were after bad losses to the teams, and for the majority of his career, he's going to have to prove that he's matured as a player.
What are the misconceptions then?
People think that he's lazy, overweight, doesn't love the game, a complainer and whiner, a bad teammate and a punk, but in reality he's the exact opposite, at least this year.
He came into training camp 15 pounds lighter than he was last year. He probably dives and hustles more than any center in this league and sometimes he gets a little too excited when the crowd's energy feeds him. DeMarcus Cousins doesn't pout or complain about every call this year, and when he and Paul Westphal were in a conflict, his teammates backed the talented young center, saying that he didn't have problems with any of the team members.
People criticized that he took too many jumpers last year, so he's back at the rim grabbing a ton of rebounds and putting monster numbers up as of late. However, these criticisms are fair to a certain extent. Why an extent?
Cousins is 21 years old. While the average 21-year-old is skipping classes and drinking every Thursday night, this guy is making millions and playing basketball. He's not perfect, and he's not a punk or a gangster—He's just a guy who needs to learn that this is more than just a game now, it's a profession.
Everybody knew that he had a very strong character coming into the NBA draft. So why expect him to become the perfect professional in less than two years? He improved his emotional approach to the game, and you can see the difference in his body language compared to last year's.
So why not give him some more time? After all, we gave Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods a second chance, and DeMarcus Cousins doesn't even compare to what those guys did to show their character.
100% of the blame can't go to DeMarcus Cousins as well. Paul Westphal had his problems with multiple guys in the past including Gary Payton, Spencer Hawes and Tyreke Evans. They've been benched, fined and suspended for speaking out against what the coach was trying to do, and if you watched Paul Westphal's teams, you would understand why those guys spoke out.
After Westphal was fired, there have been reports from people in the organization that Paul Westphal overreacted to what DeMarcus Cousins supposedly said and that the owners and the general manager, Geoff Petrie, didn't really support Paul Westphal on going public with the matter.
There's no denial that DeMarcus Cousins needs to grow up, and with the latest incident, he probably solidified his role as the "bad guy" in this league. But why not give him another chance? Instead of saying that he needs to be traded, see if the absence of the old-fashioned Paul Westphal will help the locker room situation, if there really is one.
It was clear to many fans and analysts that he just couldn't mesh with the young players. With a new coach eager to keep a good connection between him and the young center, it'll be clear if he really is a big problem off the floor.
Make no mistake, when he makes the headlines on SportsCenter for another wrong reason, he'll be cleaning out his locker for the Sacramento Kings, but until then, support him if you're a Kings fan and watch a young center show flashes of greatness if you're a NBA fan.