The Sacramento Kings are now 0-5 on the road to start the season, losing by an average of 23 points. At home the team is 3-3 and looks much better; that doesn't help when you have one home game out of nine during this brutal stretch to open Keith Smart's Kings coaching career.
If there's a bright spot to be found in the continued suffering on the road, though, is that's no matter the venue, DeMarcus Cousins has been producing really well.
Cousins is averaging 14.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He's No. 9 in the league in both rebounds and blocks per game (1.8) ... while playing just 26 minutes per game. That restricted playing time comes largely due to foul trouble -- he's up to 4.9 per game this season, and 6.7 per 36 minutes, which is wondrously high -- and conditioning. On a rate basis, Cousins is No. 1 in the league in offensive rebounding (19.2 percent of opportunities) and No. 4 in total rebounding (20.8 percent).
While his field goal percentage remains low for a big man, it's rising: he's up to 43.2 percent from the floor and a True Shooting percentage of .502, up from his rookie level (.484). His free throw rate and shooting percentage from the stripe are both up, helping that out. After that horrid start at the rim, where Cousins was making just 20 percent of his shots within three feet through five games, things have normalized. (I and others, notably Kevin Pelton, noted that the bad percentage was likely noise and bad luck. What do you know? It now looks like it was noise and bad luck!) Cousins is up to 50.8 percent from within three feet; over the last four games, he's 20-28 at the rim.
In the aggregate, this paints the picture of a young, productive stud: as of today, Boogie is No. 23 in the NBA in PER at 22.0. That lands him as the No. 7 center in the NBA and the second youngest player in the Top 50 in PER. (No. 43 Kyrie Irving is 19 years old.)
Defense is underaccounted for in PER, but we've seen Cousins work hard on that end, and the Synergy numbers are said to be good. (I don't currently have access.) Despite the Westphal drama and the bad bounces to start the season, Cousins is really showing how hard he worked in the offseason. I'm excited to be able to watch him nightly.
If only he had more help.