Kings, DeMarcus Cousins Dominate Summer League Opener

The Kings crushed the Pistons 97-68 in their Vegas Summer League debut. No King played poorly; only two Pistons (A.J. Slaughter and Mac Koshwal) played well. The Kings were by far the more aggressive team throughout, and simply dominated the paint (though the Pistons did manage to squeeze out 12 offensive rebounds in 39 opportunities). Sacramento shot 50 percent from the floor, the Pistons just 35 percent.

Hassan Whiteside had five official blocks, two goaltends and at least one or two questionable foul calls on would-be blocks. Oh, and one Inspector Gadget reference from color commentator Brent Barry. (Word to Aykis.) He didn't do much offensively; as has been written ad nauseum, he needs work in basically every part of his game that is not blocking shots. One particularly relevant play from the middle of the third quarter: Whiteside swallowed up an Austin Daye lay-up attempt -- the ball hit Whiteside's wrist -- but traveled as soon as he came down with the ball. This isn't a Mouhamed Sene situation -- Whiteside knows how to play basketball. He just has to refine those skills a lot.

(That said, he was a game-high +25 in 27 minutes of work. He changed the game, repeatedly.)

But the big story down in Vegas is one DeMarcus Cousins, the big cornerstone. How'd he do in his Kings debut? After the jump, a list of 28 plays involving Cousins which I think give a glimpse of what the Kings have and what Cousins needs to work on to reach his NBA potential.

DEFENSE

First quarter, 8:45 mark: Cousins is defending the pick and roll. He slags off the pick, and is able to meet the guard at the free throw line. The Piston is forced to pass away. After a reset, the Pistons draw a foul down low. But the fundamental reaction from Cousins was good, though NBA guards might see enough space there to free up an 18-footer.

First quarter, 7:30 mark: Cousins is defending Greg Monroe on the block, right side. Monroe is backing Cousins down, and spins baseline. Whiteside zips over from the weak side, and ends up goaltending the half-hook Monroe puts up.

First quarter, 6:56 mark: Same situation, with Cousins defending a backing-down Monroe on the right block. This time, Whiteside gets over in time and blocks Monroe's turn-around. Regarding these two defensive possessions, ESPN's David Thorpe tweeted the following:

Whiteside is very aware of being a help blocker on post action. Nice for a young player. It's a good combo next to Cousins, whose width forces players to take a few extra dribbles to get an angle. Gives Whiteside a chance.

First quarter, 4:53 mark: Monroe is barreling down the floor in transition. Cousins fills the lane, sets his feet and Monroe collides with him. But the refs call the blocking foul on Cousins due to being in the restricted zone.

Second quarter, 5:04 mark: Monroe is backing down Cousins in the paint. Monroe spins to the rim, and Cousins bumps him for the foul.

Second quarter, 4:07 mark: Monroe backs down Cousins in the lane, but can't get anywhere and kicks it out.

Second quarter, 0:34 mark: Cousins back in transition, DaJuan Summers handling the ball. Cousins doesn't set his feet in time, and upon collision is called for the blocking foul.

Third quarter, 6:15 mark: A Pistons guard is coming free from the perimeter. Cousins fills the lane and (finally) draws a charge. The Kings are up 20 at the time.

PASSING

First quarter, 9:45 mark: On Cousins' first offensive touch, he's doubled on the block. He kicks it out to a guard, the ball moves around the horn for an eventual open jumper by Ryan Thompson.

First quarter, 5:54 mark: Cousins is double 10 feet out. He passes over the defense to a cutting Omri Casspi; Casspi misses the lay-up.

Second quarter, 8:22 mark: Working on the post, Cousins is doubled softly. He kicks it out to Donte Greene, who misses a long three.

Second quarter, 4:22 mark: Cousins works on Monroe, but finds a cutting Whiteside. Hassan draws the foul at the rim.

Second quarter, 4:07 mark: After an aforementioned denial on Monroe, the Pistons miss and Cousins picks up an unchallenged rebound in the lane. He hits Casspi with an outlet just past midcourt; Casspi draws a foul at the rim.

Second quarter, 3:12 mark: Cousins runs the break with Sloan, but Detroit is getting back in time. Cousins tries to hit Sloan at the rim, but the pass is intercepted.

Third quarter, 8:54 mark: Cousins pulls down contested rebound, turns and tries to hit Thompson at midcourt, but the pass sails over the guard's head.

Fourth quarter, 5:54 mark: Going one-on-one against Monroe on the block, Cousins fires it weakside for an open Tyrese Rice three. This is actually Cousins' only assist of the game.

SCORING/SHOOTING

First quarter, 8:10 mark: Cousins fakes a baseline jumper, dribbles toward the rim and draws a shooting foul.

First quarter, 7:46 mark: Cousins is on the block. He takes a turnaround fadeaway from about 16 feet. He hits the shot and draws a foul.

Second quarter, 8:42 mark: Cousins gets the rebound off his own free throw miss, goes back up with it, misses, gets the rebound again, and finally misses again. Pistons break out.

Second quarter, 7:09 mark: On the wing, Cousins tries to take his defender off the dribble. He's stripped, and Detroit scores an easy two in transition.

Second quarter, 5:50 mark: Greene hits Cousins at the rim. Boogie does this to the Detroit Pistons and the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area:

 

Second quarter, 5:37 mark: Cousins tries to get to the rim off the dribble on the baseline, but is called for the travel.

Third quarter, 4:45 mark: Cousins tries a spot-up 21-footer from the left elbow, but it pops out.

Third quarter, 4:21 mark: Cousins receives the ball 16 feet out, just left of the key. He pulls a Ron Artest special: one dribble right, pull-up jumper, clank.

Third quarter, 2:56 mark: Cousins receives a pass in space, but doesn't handle it cleanly and is called for the travel.

Fourth quarter, 6:24 mark: Cousins is working on Monroe in the post, and spins right by him for an easy lay-up.

Fourth quarter, 5:17 mark: Cousins goes to set up the high pick-and-roll with Rice, but the Pistons trap the guard, and Cousins slips into space. (Good recognition.) Rice makes the quick pass (also good recognition), Cousins dribbles into the lane and puts up a leaner before help arrives. And-1.

Fourth quarter, 4:40 mark: Cousins takes a face-up 20-footer over Monroe. Clank.

***

Cousins finished with 14 points on 5-11 shooting, 10 rebounds (3 offensive), an assist and five turnovers in 26 minutes. Monroe only managed 7 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and four turnovers in 25 minutes. There's a lot Cousins needs to work on, especially on shot selection. But man, this kid's a man. He changes the game, and the fabric of the Kings. We have five more VSL games, but I'm already drooling at the idea of seeing him work with Tyreke Evans next fall.

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