True basketball fans have been recently lamenting the absence of the type of big men we once loved. The type of guy that you could just dump the ball into and watch him score 60 percent of the time. While there is still a small sample of such players throughout the NBA, their days of dominance are long gone.
At least that's what some of us thought before DeMarcus Cousins figured something out.
Drafted in 2010 out of John Calipari’s basketball factory at the University of Kentucky, Cousins’ dualistic nature is akin to a ray of light being classified as both a particle and a wave. He is one-part media curmudgeon, one-part basketball savant.
As if averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game for his career wasn’t enough to make him the best all-around big man basketball for the past three years, Boogie unveiled a new weapon this season that has made him nearly unstoppable: a three-point shooting touch.
He was already unstoppable in the post, but now that he's a certified perimeter threat he's unstoppable-er! At 27 points and 11 rebounds per game this season, even Stevie Wonder can see that he's playing like a future Hall of Famer.
Cousins, among the league leaders in technical fouls for the past three years, has now passed that title along to Golden State's Draymond Green. But when Cousins' competitiveness and thirst to win got the better of him, you never heard the applause that Green receives as being “the heart and soul of the team” or for being “a gritty, tough kid from the streets of the inner city who's had to scrape his way to the top."
The perception and narrative around him has always been that he's a knucklehead, despite the fact that's never been in trouble off the court
Boogie recently dropped 48 points and 13 rebounds on Indiana, and then gave Charlotte 56 points and 12 rebounds in an OT loss. Those are Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins and Kareem Abdul Jabbar type numbers right there.
Last season’s arrival of head coach George Karl brought an immediate butting of heads between two strong-minded personalities with a wide generational gap. Since those early rumblings in Sacramento, things have calmed down considerably. The Kings have been winning at a pace that, if they continue, will have them accumulate more victories than they have in the past seven seasons. Right now they sit just outside of the playoff picture in the talented Western Conference.
Some of the credit goes to the re-emergence of floor general Rajon Rondo, and part of it goes to George Karl’s willingness to push the tempo and his coaching acumen.
But without the emergence, growth and spectacular play of their talented big man, none of that would matter. There's a new low-post sheriff in the NBA, and his name is Boogie Cousins.