February 24, 2012; Orlando FL, USA; Team Chuck center DeMacus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings (15) drives against Team Shaq center Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pisons (10) during the second half of the BBVA rising stars challenge at the Amway Center in Orlando. Team Chuck defeated Team Shaq 146-133. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
In his annual trade value column, Bill Simmons ranked DeMarcus Cousins (the only King on the top-50 list, though Tyreke Evans was an honorable mention) No. 32, and compared him to Greg Monroe (ranked No. 22). Here's the gist:
Boogie Cousins gets more hype than Greg Monroe; he got drafted two picks ahead of him; his upside seems like it should be higher; he's more fun to follow; he has a better nickname; and he's always going to seem a little more overpowering when he has it going. [...] Just know that Sacramento would flip Boogie for Monroe in a cocaine heartbeat ... and if the roles were reversed, Detroit would hang up.
While this is unbelievable B.S., it doesn't matter, because the debate isn't Cousins vs. Monroe. In 1998 or 2000 or 2002 you could do this exercise with Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, you could have a prominent sportswriter prone to amazing hyperbole claim one team would do a straight-up trade in a heartbeat and the other would hang up, you could see fans of both teams agree or disagree militantly and ... it just wouldn't matter one bit.
The debate is not and will never really be Cousins vs. Monroe in terms of trades, because they aren't getting swapped for each other. They are both exemplary young big men whose on-court success will depend on work ethic, skill development, supporting casts and coaching. They are potential All-Stars -- I thought Monroe should have been in this year -- and maybe future MVP candidates. Maybe Monroe is a little better. Maybe Cousins is a little better. Who cares? They're both awesome. Their teams are lucky to have them. (Thanks Kahn!)