During his rookie season, Cousins has flashed both the potential that made him a favorite of statistical analysts based on his performance at the University of Kentucky and the immaturity that made teams wary of drafting him. Starting with a 21-point, 16-rebound effort against the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 28, Cousins appears to be turning the corner. In his past six games, Cousins has averaged 21.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
The biggest key for Cousins has been his ability to stay on the floor. After topping the 30-minute mark just four times in his first 28 games, Cousins has been above 30 three times in the past six -- not counting the 29:56 he played in Thursday's win over the Denver Nuggets. Though he has yet to overcome it, Cousins has been able to limit the impact of the foul trouble that has plagued him throughout the season (he's the only player in the league averaging more than four fouls per game) and has played well enough to convince Paul Westphal to trust him out there for extended stretches.
Beyond the minutes, the biggest change in Cousins' game has been the improvement in his accuracy from the field. Inexplicably, the 6-foot-11 post had been making just 41.3 percent of his 2-point attempts. The problem, as pointed out by Hoopdata.com's shot-location numbers, has been Cousins' tendency to shoot too often from long range. His shot selection has improved only slightly, but Cousins has made shots from 16 to 23 feet at a respectable 47.1 percent clip lately, justifying taking them. That number figures to fall, as Cousins has hit just 35.0 percent of such shots over the course of the season.
Some of Cousins' other gains are more likely to be sustained. He is turning the ball over less frequently while also displaying an ability to create plays from the high post as a passer. Cousins has also increased his usage rate from 26.2 percent of the Kings' possessions to 28.6 percent. That Cousins has the talent to play like this has never been in question. What he will have to prove, instead, is that he can manage to sustain it over the remainder of the season.