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DeMarcus Cousins needs to take it to the next level.
DeMarcus Cousins had another solid season by putting up a great line of 22.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 1.3 BPG. Most of his statistics were career highs, but he is still plagued by the perception that he is an immature player who loses his cool.
He picked up his 16th technical foul before the season ended and as a result, he missed the Kings’ final home game. He had not received a technical foul since February 25, which was the longest stretch of his career.
He has the potential to be the best center in the game, but he has a lot of holes to cover before he gets there. The first one is his attitude, which he is making major progress on.
He states that he has his coach’s back, and Coach Malone has his. He needs to stay on board with that premise and significantly reduce his technical numbers.
He needs to really exemplify the leadership role on the team and push Coach Malone’s strategies and messages to the rest of his teammates. Once they start winning consistently and start beating the above-.500 teams, his job will get easier.
The growth process is a stubborn one, but he is in the process of climbing to the next plateau.
General manager Peter D’Alessandro had these comments to say about Cousins' ability to make players around him better, courtesy of Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, via Cowbell Kingdom:
When you play with DeMarcus Cousins and that level of talent, (it) makes other players around him better. I really believe that. I think he draws so much attention for his skill-set and what he does, that talented players can thrive off of that. And it’s all about what goes on on the floor. To me it really it is. And as a guy who represented players, you want to see your guys in positions where they can thrive. And I think having a DeMarcus Cousins puts our other players in positions where they can thrive. The guy can pass the ball and will. The guy can handle the ball and does. There’s so many things that he does besides being just the beast that he is. I believe part of, talking about the sales pitch of (getting players to play here), is come play with DeMarcus Cousins.
If Cousins can play to that type of potential with no distractions, he will greatly improve the four other teammates on the court.
Looking at the big picture, the Kings are a team that will surprise a lot of people next season. If Coach Malone can establish a defensive system that players can execute and produce, the team is that much closer to reaching the playoffs.
However, winning comes down to doing more right things than the opponent each game. If that philosophy can be branded into the minds of the Kings, Coach Malone might be playing into May next year.