My two cents on how the team could show some legitimate improvement in the coming games. Sure you could try moving some parts around as most have clamored for here. But, I don't think that hits any of the core problems. In my view, here's what needs to be done.
Point #1: The biggest issue. Demarcus Cousins wants to be a high post operating big. It looks like this is a reasonable career path for him to take (although I am sure many wish he would choose to operate in the low post). There is no denying he has the tools (jumpshot, penetration, passing ability) to be a legitimate high post option (much like Webber was for us). But that does not mean he should catch the ball near the damn 3 point line! If he wants to run the high post, establish position at 15 feet. If you don't get position, you don't get the ball. Period. That is what I am telling him and the rest of the team if I am Coach Smart.
Point #2: Post-up guards. If Evans and Johnson are going to be below average outside shooters, let's not have them be outside shooters. Isn't that simple? We need low post options anyway (we have none outside JT), since Cousins insists on running the high post. Let's separate out when Evans and Johnson are on the floor and let them know we expect them to give us a low post or mid post presence. Both guys are capable enough at passing out of the positions and are strong/big enough relative to position to be effective in such a role. Furthermore, these two guys are possibly the best on the team at finishing near the hoop. So, put them in their spots. If they really develop some outside shooting later in the season, they can expand their roles.
Point #3: Move off the ball and find your shooters and cutters. This team has plenty of spot up options to run off of low-post and high-post sets. Just run some simple off ball movement and hit the open guy. Look. This team will not be an above average passing team. It is just not constructed that way. But, we do have guys on the team that can score. Get them the ball in spots to score and put up the shot. Lots of people seem to rag on Thornton for putting up shots too quickly, but I would rather have a decent/average jump-shot from him than a turnover or end of the clock force from some of the other guys on the team.
Point #4: The ultimatum. Smart mentioned in the presser that the guys need to figure out that things (paraphrased) "don't work the way they want to do it". Then you have Hayes saying: (paraphrased again) "we can't keep saying we are too young". These offensive changes are not drastic whatsoever. They are simple. They say that I realize that players on our team has various strengths and weaknesses. I, as the coach, expect you guys to play to those strengths and adhere the system. If you are a shooter, then shoot. If you are a playmaker, then make plays. If you are a cutter, make cuts.
Point #5: The rebuild. If you don't get buy in, such as Cousins keeps catching deep on the perimeter or Evans keeps thinking he is a perimeter first guard, then you trade. You are better off with either (1) taking on low risk/reward vets who give you a chance at a low playoff seed or (2) getting back into the draft vs. staying with core pieces that do not wish to make the right plays.
Point #6: Cousins and Evans. These two guys are good players. My personal belief, however, is that neither is a franchise-changing superstar. It is easy to say with Cousins that he just needs to tone down the temper and the shot selection. But...does that ever happen? Seriously, guys with bad attitudes in this league rarely change. Maybe your best case comp here is actually someone like Webber who took 7-8 years and three franchises to put it all together. Not to mention, do you know how many players compare to Cousins advanced stats from last year (Rebound % above 25, TS% below .50 and PER above 20)... one season by Jermaine O'Neal. Other close matches? Al Jefferson and end of career Patrick Ewing. Not Shaq, not Webber, not even Bynum. Even a guy like Josh Smith who had a terrible reputation as a chucker is a more efficient player. Cousins is the epitome of an uber-talented, yet grossly underachieving big man. Hey! Isn't that how Evans gets described around here? Do you know who one of Evans' top matches for career win shares is?...none other than Aaron Brooks.
Conclusion: My point? These guys are the most physically talented, yet most terribly inefficient players on the roster (and possibly in the league). I think you have to try and get them into certain spots on the floor that augment their skills. The team, as currently constructed, is obviously not going anywhere unless they become efficient offensive players. It is hard (impossible?) to keep any team motivated to play defense when it does not believe in its ability to score. If they refuse or fail to adapt, you have no choice but to start over. The two have to have some trade value and how much worse would the team really be without them? (Maybe I will regret asking that question)...Lastly, a poll....what are the chances that we could see efficiency improvements by these two core players?
Will we see considerable improvement by Cousins and Evans in terms of offensive efficiency?
Both players will improve (this year). (10 votes)
Cousins will, Evans won't (this year). (13 votes)
Evans will, Cousins won't (this year). (1 vote)
Neither will improve (this year). (14 votes)
Neither will improve...EVER!!! (2 votes)
Both can improve....after they leave this organization. (7 votes)
47 total votes