Steve Kerr: DeMarcus Cousins' Return Got Warriors Through 'Tough Stretch'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2019

Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins (0) stands on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Washington. The Warriors won 126-118. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Even though he has appeared in just five games this season, DeMarcus Cousins has already made a major impact on the Golden State Warriors.

"No dog days this year," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said on Wednesday, per ESPN's Nick Friedell. "It's been nice. I think he personally got us through what would normally be the tough stretch. Let's face it: We had some tough days earlier in the season, between injuries and some drama and all that stuff. So it doesn't feel like a normal January, February point of the schedule. It feels fresher, and a lot of that has to do with DeMarcus."

The Warriors have not lost since Boogie made his 2018-19 debut, pushing their winning streak to 11 games. As a result, they have improved their record to 36-14 and hold a one-game lead for the top spot in the Western Conference.

Cousins was sidelined for the first 45 games of the season as he worked his way back from a torn Achilles suffered with the New Orleans Pelicans in January 2018. Since returning, he is averaging 15.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in his five appearances.

"I worked my ass off," Cousins said, according to Friedell. "That's as simple as I can put it. I worked my ass off. I just come out and try to play the right way. I guess when you're playing the right way, good things will happen for you."

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Playing alongside four fellow All-Stars has given Boogie the opportunity to receive less attention from opposing defenses than what he has seen throughout his career—and he is enjoying the experience.

"It's fun, man," Cousins said, per Friedell. "It's fun to share the responsibility. It's fun to play with talent. It's fun to play with guys just as talented as yourself. The game becomes a lot easier for everybody on the floor. You're not always the focal point. You don't always have to see double- and triple-teams on a nightly basis. It's fun."

For a team that has won back-to-back titles and three of the past four, it would be easy to get complacent during the regular season. However, as Kerr pointed out, Golden State has dealt with no shortage of adversity early on this season. 

Not only did Cousins miss the first half of the season, but Stephen Curry (groin) and Draymond Green (toe) were also sidelined at one point. Meanwhile, Green and two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant were also involved in a heated exchange during a game in November. And now, the Warriors have to work an offseason acquisition into the starting lineup.

Through all of that, though, they still have the best record in the West.

Ultimately, Golden State's season will be defined by what does or doesn't happen in June. Cousins has yet to appear in a playoff game in his career, but given the rest of the roster has no shortage of postseason experience, the Warriors figure to be heavy favorites if healthy—especially now that they have shown the ability to work Boogie onto the court seamlessly.

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