FanPost

Excuses & Expectations (Or What I Learned From Summer League About DMC)

I know I should take my green glow on the other DMC thread and walk away into the sunset. But quite a few good points were raised and I'd like to address a few of them, while at the same time, looking forward to what we can and should expect from this year’s Kings.

Several of you accused me of making excuses for DMC. You say that as though it's a bad thing. And yet, that's how we come to determine realistic expectations. When Omri's shooting collapsed toward the end of last season, did we decide that Casspi was a head case who didn't care? Did we blame him being too fat, or pouting?

No, we made excuses. He was exhausted. He was a star everywhere he went. He expended too much energy early in the season. He had the weight of an entire nation on his back. And the fact of the matter is that all of those were true. On the other hand, rookie like Tyreke, Jennings, and Curry didn’t hit the same wall. And Omri wasn’t playing any more minutes than they were. And they had high expectations and played high energy ball.

We decided Omri was just tired, because we had no previous reasons to believe otherwise. But what if we knew that Omri had a reputation as being a hot head? Emotional? Hard to coach? Might that have changed our minds?

Let's look at a couple of quotes, about a "problem" player.

"His energy sagged. His confidence waned. His frustration was apparent in his slumping shoulders and frequent displays of displeasure. He stopped running the floor, stopped throwing down those monster dunks. He stopped having fun."


Who does that sound like?

More?

". . . they said the same bad things about me. That I didn't listen, wasn't coachable, was not a good guy."


Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/19/2898713/voisin-casspi-learns-to-bulk-up.html#ixzz0uAevIQ8w

Those aren’t quotes about Cousins, they are quotes about Omri—a player many of us would like to see as our starting three guard. I know red flags has come to be the same cliché NaPG became last year. After all, the media told us Cousins was a problem child. And so we came to expect that. We looked for it. We waited for the inevitable melt down. When our other rooks complained about calls, we didn’t notice as much because they didn’t have red flags. But when Cousins, argued, got down on himself, argued with other players it was because he was a hot head.

The problem is that we are not the only ones to hear these stories. Refs hear them. Other players hear them. Coaches hear them. And since opposing players and coaches look for weaknesses, they will try to get under his skin. And since refs hear them, he may very well get more than the usual rookie scrutiny. In fact I would argue that he was called more tightly, and hounded more by opposing players, for those very reasons.

The question then arises, what should we have expected from Cousins and did he in fact prove or disprove any of these expectations. When you look behind the smoke, do you find a fire or just more smoke?

For expectations, let’s look to DraftExpress

"Cousins does stand out in how small of a proportion of his possessions he turned the ball over (13.4%) and how frequently he drew free throws (22.9%, 3rd). Clearly, his ability to use his body allowed him to clear out space and create contact underneath. He also runs the floor extremely well, getting out in transition (10.8% of his possessions) more than any other center except for Mac Koshwal."

 

And

Though Cousins proved capable of creating his own shot, he was at his best when crashing the glass. He created 3.2 possessions per-game for himself rebounding his teammates’ missed shots.

 

 

Finally

Although he only took .6 jump-shots per game according to Synergy, Cousins shot a solid 1.083 PPP on them (3rd after Solomon Alabi and Tibor Pleiss), which hints at good things to come in this area in the future.

From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/DeMarcus-Cousins-1318/#ixzz0uByQjspYY

So we should have expected good rebounding, the ability to draw fouls, solid jump shooting, a good motor, and a low turnover rate.

How did he do?

 

Pts

FGM

FGA

FTM

FTA

Reb

TO

12-Jul

14

5

11

4

6

10

5

13-Jul

19

8

20

3

3

12

5

14-Jul

22

9

17

4

7

12

5

16-Jul

16

5

18

6

7

12

6

17-Jul

10

3

15

4

4

7

3

18-Jul

6

1

12

4

7

6

5

 Avg

15

5

16

4

6

10

5

1-3

18

7

16

4

5

11

5

4-6

11

3

15

5

6

8

5

 

He averaged 15 points per game. I think we can all be happy with that. He averaged nearly ten rebounds per game. Tied for number one in summer league. Shooting is where we have a tale of two players. Games one through three he averaged a very respectable 7 for 16 (43%). In games four through six, he shot a horrible 3 for 15 (20%). Same number of shot attempts but half the results. Considering that he shot almost 56% in college, even the 43% would seem to be a drop, but honestly no expects him to shoot the same percentage in the NBA that he does in college. The biggest concern is the drop from the first three games to the second three. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that I believe he took more outside shots. But at least as big is that he missed shots he made in the first three games. I’ll get to that in a little bit.

Free throw attempts were almost identical in all his games 4 for 5 in the first three games. 5 for 6 in the last three. An average of 6 free throw attempts and 4 makes per game. Number of attempts at 6 per game is right about what we would expect. And since his college shooting was 60%, he actually shot FTs a little better than we should have expected. Turnovers was a big surprise. This is a guy who averaged 2 turnovers a game in about 23 minutes in college. Averaging 5 a game is a bit of a concern. We may be able to blame at least some of that on playing with guys he doesn’t know, but I think at least as much blame has to go to forcing the ball. In college he averaged less than 10 shot attempts a game. Here he averaged 15.

He was regularly out running the floor. In fact as I pointed  out in my other comments, in game five he was right behind Rice and put back the miss that would have won that game had Rice not been fouled. And that was in a game where clearly he was gassed. So, yes, he does appear to have a motor and is quite willing to run for a big guy.

Now let’s look at some of the concerns. Several people on this board have stated that his minutes in college were limited because of foul trouble. I expected his college fouls per game to be high. When I actually checked though, it was only 3.2 PFs per game. That’s about 1 foul per game more than Whiteside and half a foul a game more than Monroe, who is considered more of a finesse player.

So how did he do? His six game total fouls were 4,6,2,10,5,2. For an average of 5 fouls per game. That’s pretty high, even for summer league. But if you take out the obvious outlier of game 4, it drops to a more reasonable  4 per game. One more than Whiteside.

Another big concern was his conditioning. Here I think we see fire behind the smoke more than anywhere else. Shooting percentage drops by half in the second half of the series. Fouls go from 4 per game to nearly six. Rebounds drop from 11 to 8. Points drop from 18 to 11. What explains such a dramatic drop across the board? Strength of schedule? Not likely. Attitude? Maybe. But why would his attitude be consistently better in the first three games than in the last three? That he didn’t care? I think that in part this is the case. He came out to prove something and did so in dramatic fashion in the first three games. A let down is not hugely surprising. But after a bad game, wouldn’t he feel he had something to prove again in game six? And yet that was his worst game of the series.

I believe it is clear that based on the overall drop in numbers he was gassed. He gave everything in the first three games and by game four he began fouling more on defense, driving to the hoop less, not fighting as much for rebounds. And generally conserving energy on both sides of the floor. So in this case we can put a big check next to conditioning. In fact Ellie himself said the settling for jump shots was a sign of fatigue.

Six games in seven days is hard on anyone. If you think any NBA center would not be tired by the end of that schedule you should have stopped reading this post way before now. However, the fact that the drop off started in game four is pretty solid proof that the expectation of him not being in the best shape is real. I will add a key point though. His drop off started a day after a break. Not a day after a game. If it possible that Boogie did a little too much boogying on Thursday night? No way to know, but it definitely something to consider.

Finally we have the attitude thing. To listen to the media, Cuz is a bomb waiting to explode. Ron Artest’s big brother. That is a scary thought. Did we see that? Maybe. He clearly got fired up in the Minny game. He did get a technical foul, albeit a double. He complained about calls. He talked smack. He appeared to pout when things didn’t go his way. But the problem is that he looked angry pretty much all six games. He looks angry when he interviews. He looks angry when he scores. He looked like he wanted to rip someone’s head off after he WON the T-Wolves game.

Based on his looks, maybe all the red flags were right. But based on actions, you cannot make that case at all. Ten days in Vegas. Lots of banging. The coaches putting him through trial by fire. Guys sent to do nothing but bang on him. All of that and he didn’t throw any punches. He didn’t throw any tantrums. The technical was not for a flagrant type foul but for mutual pushing and shoving. Ellie said, "He gets a little frustrated when things don't go his way." Casspi said, "We both show how we feel. I don't understand what everybody was saying about his attitude."

Check mark? Maybe half of one. He has attitude for good or bad. He cares, which is great. He complains which is not so great. Considering that we’ve had Hawes and JT, complaining to the refs and the occasional pouting is not exactly new to us.

So what’s the bottom line? Almost everything that was promised from a good side was delivered. He can shoot. He can pass. He can rebound. He has great footwork. Did you see Webber practically drooling over the kid in game three? And he wasn’t the only one. Nearly every media type that saw him in the first three games was calling him the steal of the draft. T-Wolves fans were weeping.

Right up until he hit the wall. Then everything fell apart. The only positive we can really take out of the last three games was that he didn’t implode and go ballistic on anyone. He was unhappy, clearly. But we would have been pretty irked if he wasn’t. His turnovers were high. His fouls were a little high in the first three games and a lot high once he got tired. He clearly needs to work on getting in better shape.

Can we judge anything based on the level of competition? Some would say no. These are rookies, d-leaguers, guys who will be playing in foreign countries, or not at all. And yet if these guys are so crappy why did Casspi look terrible last summer? Why didn’t Donte dominate this year? Yes, Cuz will be competing against better centers in real games. But he will have players like ‘Reke, Beno, JT, and Landry to take the heat off of him. In the Summer League he was facing double and triple teams every time he got the ball. If teams do that in real games, our other players will feast. Especially when you consider how amazing some of Cuz’s passes were.

Bottom line.

Of course this is subjective. You already know I am a Cousins fan. But I believe we can set the following expectations for 2010-11 when it comes to Cuz. He will be the best big man out of this year’s draft. (At least this year.)  He will be the best rookie big man we’ve had since many of you became Kings fans. He has the talent (shooting, footwork, passing, drawing fouls) to be an elite level big man. He will care about winning, a lot.

He will need to get in much better shape to handle a full NBA season. He will get in foul trouble and he will complain about it. He will hate losing and will hang his head when things don’t go his way. He will try to do too much. He will get yelled at by the coaches and not like it. He will probably not start most games.

He will probably play 20-25 minutes per game. When he is on, that could go way up. When he is off, or gets in foul trouble, that could quickly drop. He will make great plays that will make us all go crazy. He will make bad plays that will make us all go crazy. If he is willing to be taught, and if can mature over the next couple of years, (and this is something no one but Boogie can predict) he and Tyreke can not only be the foundation of a playoff team, but be regulars at the All Star game.

Will we make excuses for him? Of course. He is 19. He is a rookie. He played against generally smaller players in college, and for all but a handful of freaks, adapting to NBA play takes a while. There’s a reason ‘Reke was in elite company. 20/5/5 almost never happens. If Cousins comes anywhere close to averaging a double double, it will be out of this world amazing. If you expect him to do that, you may see the reasons why that does not happen as excuses. If, on the other hand, you expect to see a very talented 19 year old kid, making mistakes, learning, getting better, backsliding, acting dumb at times, and every now and then making your jaw drop, I think you have a lot to look forward to.

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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