The fight for power is one that may never end in the NBA. From franchises searching for an elusive championship to individuals fighting for bragging rights, there is no limit to one's desire for the label of "the greatest."
As the 2013 NBA season rapidly approaches, a new name emerges as one of the future elite. This time around, however, it is not just a place amongst the greatest that awaits. It's a seat at the top.
In a day and age in which athleticism trumps all else, the few remaining pure big men continue to make their mark. While Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan are aging and past their prime, they've proven that greatness in the fundamentals can lead to timeless careers.
Although Cousins is not your conventional superstar, he's certainly got the talent and production to warrant the label. As Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Andrew Bynum and Kevin Love take over the ranks as the NBA's best in the frontcourt, Cousins has quietly matched them step by step in his young two-year career.
Which is exactly why the man they call DMC is destined to become the best big man in the NBA.
For DeMarcus Cousins, it's all about balance. As we evaluate his cross-state rivals, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard, there are distinct advantages that Cousins holds due to that underrated quality. For instance, both Griffin and Howard have relatively unpolished low-post games and weak mid-range jump shots.
Cousins, on the other hand, can score over both shoulders and is lethal from 15 to 23 feet. He's also an equally as dominant rebounder by parallel to the stage he's at in his career and a far superior defender to the inept Blake Griffin.
The next comparison, of course, would be to Andrew Bynum, a player who, much like Cousins, has the skill to take over, size to dominate and mindset to let his team down.
Bynum and Cousins counter each other well on both sides of the ball, each scoring, rebounding and defending at similar paces. The difference, and key advantage, is that Cousins is the far more versatile player. Bynum can defend the paint and score from the post, but lacks the mobility to step out on D or take a step back for a mid-range J.
DeMarcus Cousins can do both with consistency.
The final comparison is the one that some would consider to matter most. This, of course, comes as Cousins squares off with the man who has recently been crowned as the game's best power forward: Kevin Love.
Love is known for his dominant rebounding, stretch shooting and tenacity in the paint. DeMarcus Cousins, meanwhile, averaged 11.0 rebounds himself and has the ability to consistently knock down a shot from anywhere out to the three-point line. Throw him in the paint and you'll learn why no one wants to defend this kid.
And then we get to defense.
While Kevin Love may be one of the game's great offensive forces, he is one of the absolute worst defenders in the game. His rebounding ability minimizes these faults, but Love is constantly beat off of the dribble and from the post. He's as dismal a shot blocker as any in the game and is constantly outsmarted in his pursuit of his opponent.
While his effort is always there, Love is almost always exposed as the porous defensive liability that he is.
On the contrary, DeMarcus Cousins happens to be one of the best defenders the NBA has to offer. He can contain any opponent from a stretch 4 to a bruising 5, utilizing his overwhelming strength and deceptive quickness to contain either breed of opponent.
He also capitalizes on the fact that his timing has improved tremendously as a shot blocker, as has the quickness in his hands as he comes up with steals left and right.
In fact, Cousins was one of just six players in the NBA who averaged greater than 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game simultaneously. Amongst the others who qualified were Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Kevin Durant.
At this point in his career, Cousins is on par with each and every one of the NBA's elite big men. As his game continues to develop, however, DMC will exceed the level of all players listed. That is, if he improves in the one department that holds him back.
Cousins' struggles with his body language are well-documented. The true area of maturity he must focus on improving, though, is his impatience.
Although Cousins is an excellent shot blocker and one of the best pocket pickers at his position, he bites too heavily on head and ball fakes, thus rushing shooters with too much aggression and committing the hack.
His average of 4.0 fouls per game is evidence of such.
Despite the reasonable concern, it's important to note one very important fact: DeMarcus Cousins is just 21 years old. To say he has room to improve would be selling the kid short.
The sky is the limit for DeMarcus Cousins. Nevertheless, expect Cousins to reach for the stars as he begins to take steps towards becoming the best big man in the NBA, a fate that is inevitable for DMC to reach.