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Why DeMarcus Cousins Has Been the Sacramento Kings MVP Thus Far

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 14:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings watches a free throw during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 14, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Justin OlexaContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2014

Talent was never the problem with DeMarcus Cousins. It has always been his immaturity and attitude holding him up from reaching his full potential. He was more of a headache than an asset for the Sacramento Kings in his first few seasons. That has changed this season as Cousins is having the best season due to a new attitude and maturity, which is why Cousins has become the leader and MVP for the Kings thus far. 

Last season Cousins' immaturity led to multiple suspensions from the NBA and the Kings.

His first suspension was a strange one. He confronted Spurs announcer Sean Elliott, according to SB Nation.

The next suspension came after Cousins decided to hit O.J. Mayo below the belt. Here is what O.J. Mayo said after the game, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.

That guy has some mental issues, man. He's a talented player. He has an opportunity to be the face of that organization, but I don't think he wants it. ... He's immature, man. Big maturity problem. Hopefully, he'll grow up out of it and become great. He definitely has the talent to.

Just over a week later Cousins got into a verbal altercation with then coach Keith Smart. USA Today's Sam Amick reported the news.

However, Cousins has matured this year and wants to be the leader of the Kings. His maturity and improved focus have led to the best season of his career. He is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and field-goal percentage.

SeasonFG%REBASTSTLBLKPTS
2010-11438.62.51.00.814.1
2011-1245111.61.51.218.1
2012-13479.92.71.40.717.1
2013-145011.63.01.81.123.4

**Stats from basketball-reference.com**

Cousins ranks third in the NBA in player efficiency ratingHe is above the likes of Kevin Love and Chris Paul. Kevin Durant and Lebron James are the only players he trails. Pretty elite company.

**As of January 15**

The biggest change for Cousins is transforming from a distraction to a leader. Here is what coach Michael Malone said, according to Jabari Young from Spurs Nation.

He’s making great strides in that area and we’re going to continue to work with him to fulfill all that potential he has. But he’s definitely a big voice for this team. He sets a tone for us every day, and that’s what being a leader is about – doing the right thing every day, and he’s trying to do that.

 

In an interview before the season with ABC News10's Sean Cunningham, Cousins talked about being a leader.

I'm still going to be the same player, just less mistakes. Some of the mistakes I've made in the past... getting ejected, letting my team down, those things I can't continue to do. I feel I'm past that now. I am ready to accept responsibility and be this team's leader. I got to go out there and lead every night. I got to be the one diving on the floor for those loose balls...That's part of me being a leader.

His teammates believe his as you can see from this interview with Isaiah Thomas.

True to his word, Cousins has become the leader with both his attitude and on-court play. No suspensions or locker room fights this season. Cousins is quickly becoming the best center in the NBA and has been the Kings leader and MVP to this point.

Follow me on twitter @Joelexa7 

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