What is this season about for the Kings? It certainly isn't about getting to the playoffs or even attaining .500. Not after yet another horrid start to the season. This season, like the past four, has to be about developing young talent, and aside from potentially Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins is the most important developmental piece to the current team. A young big man with both size and skill, Cousins is one of the building blocks this team has chosen to lay its foundation on. Which is why it is disappointing that he keeps giving us reasons to stop believing in him.
Last night in Los Angeles, amidst yet another disappointing display, Cousins let his frustrations boil over, jawing with Coach Smart between quarters and apparently continuing into the locker room at half time. For his actions, Coach Smart opted to leave him in the locker room for the second half, citing "conduct detrimental to the team".
To make matters worse, the Kings played as a much better team in that second half without Cousins. While it wasn't enough to overcome the first half deficit, the team played with more intensity, energy and unselfishness. Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette did their best to bring a sense of urgency for the Kings, and James Johnson and Jason Thompson proved effective during their stints. The Clippers depth and talent overcame though, and the Kings weren't able to get closer than six points. Chris Paul was an absolute maestro on both ends of the court, shooting lights out and disrupting the Kings offense with his ballhawking. Any time the Kings gained some momentum, there was Paul righting the ship for Los Angeles.
But the loss, largely expected, pales in comparison to the thought of Sacramento's rebuild lying on a fault line, ready to collapse at a moment's notice. Cousins, whose red flags have been mentioned throughout his young basketball career (both amateur and professional) has done little to redeem himself. While he did the responsible thing after tonight's game and offered an apology to both his team and the media, it's time for Cousins to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, both off AND on the court, where he hasn't exactly been stunning either.
During the second half of last year, it appeared Cousins had turned a corner in terms of his game. He became a nightly 20-10 threat and was much improved on defense as well (he led the league in charges taken). There were still major flaws, particularly in his efficiency and foul issues, but it was promising enough to overlook his troublesome disposition.
Not so this year. Cousins has seen both his efficiency and defense slip, and has shown a seeming lack of interest at times on the court. His fiery temperament has led to more problems than solutions; He's near the top of the league in technical fouls and has already been suspended for three games. These are not the acts of someone who thinks of themselves as a franchise player, who wants to carry this team to the promised land. These are the acts of an immature and petulant man-child, one who feels he is owed more than he has earned. Kudos to Keith Smart for holding him responsible and refusing to coddle him.
I want to believe in DeMarcus Cousins. I want to see him rise to greatness and bring this team along. But it can't happen unless he channels his passion and fervor for the game in a constructive, not destructive, manner.
- Final Dunk Count: Clippers 15, Kings 4
- Eric Bledsoe has ridiculous hops. The Clippers might be one of the most athletically explosive teams in NBA history.
- I'll give this to Bill Walton: Even he knows Isaiah and Jimmer should be playing over Aaron Brooks.
- If Blake Griffin can hit that jumper that he was hitting last night on a consistent basis, Griffin's status as Amare 2.0 will be secure. Griffin's a much better passer and ball handler than Stoudemire ever was though.
- I don't know how anyone can doubt Chris Paul's status as the best Point Guard in the NBA. Without him, the Clippers would likely be a decidedly average team. With him, they're elite.
- Boy, does this team miss Tyreke's defense in the backcourt. Without him, there are no plus defenders among the Kings guards. Get well soon Reke!
- Nostradumbass of the Night was jtkings13 with 6 points.