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Cousins has enormous talent, but can he smooth out the rough edges in his game?
Can DeMarcus Cousins finally put it together? That's the biggest question surrounding the Sacramento Kings in 2013-14.
Cousins has had some off-court issues, but let's just focus on the basketball side of things.
There's no question Cousins has a tantalizing skill set. He's a legitimate 20-10 big with a rare dribble-and-pass game, and he's only 22 years old. That's generally a player teams want to lock up for a very long time.
However, Cousins has some huge flaws that will give the Kings pause.
Cousins' biggest flaw is defense. The Kings finished 29th defensively in each of the last two seasons, and they've always been worse with him on the floor. Cousins often gets lazy defensively and is a poor pick-and-roll defender to the point that former Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart told Grantland's Zach Lowe:
What I've shared with him is: This is what teams are going to do to you. This is what I would do to you — put you in a pick-and-roll every time. This is what you are going to have to figure out. If you are not a shot-blocker, you're going to have to figure out how to be a good defensive player, a good defensive pick-and-roll player.
Even offensively, Cousins has some big problems. Last season, he took 530 jumpers—well over every other type of shot combined—and even worse, he made just 29 percent of those jumpers.
If Cousins focused solely on a low-post game and the pick-and-roll, he would be a better offensive player. As it is, he capsizes the Kings offense with jumpers. In fact, last season the Kings were actually worse offensively when Cousins was on the court.
Cousins should and will be given a chance under new Kings coach Mike Malone. And who knows? Maybe he'll flourish in what seems to be a less toxic Sacramento culture.
If he does, the Kings suddenly have one of the league's best young building blocks. But if he doesn't, the Kings will have some tough choices to make.