Tuesday Mail Sac: Cousins, Cousins, Cousins, season tickets & road trips

USA TODAY Sports

If it's Tuesday it must be DeMarcus Cousins.

MI80 checks back in: "I have another Cousins question (Btw, great article about giving him a large extension). His on the court play as well as age certainly merit a max extension. I agree with your idea of making the contract less than a max but with certain incentives pushing the deal to a full max contract (maybe making some of the incentives personally based i.e. points per game, rebounds, etc). But maybe even tying some of the incentives to team performance (i.e. winning an additional 10 games this year). I think this would incentivize him to being a better teammate and leader. My question is can NBA contracts include offsets for negative actions? For example, he is given a number of technical fouls (say 8) that don't cost him anything. However, after 8, he starts losing money on a sliding scale. Each technical foul after 8 costs him more and more money. Same thing with being tossed from games (not fouling out) but getting thrown out of a game or receiving two techs. Same thing with being suspended by team. Not sure Fegan would be that happy with that type of structure, but given his history, it might make him think twice about his actions at times. I also like your idea about him taking less so they can pair him with a shot blocking center. However, I feel his agent is going to make a strong push to get him the max (which is really his job and helps him recruit future players)."

First off, the credit/blame for that article goes to Tom Ziller. While I'll certainly understand and support the front office should they determine to give him max money right now, I'm not there yet. I'd like to see three consecutive months of play that is deserving of a max extension, which basically means that I wouldn't pull the trigger by the October 31 deadline for this year.

As far as a contract that deducts for non-illegal negative actions, that's just not happening in the NBA or any other major sport where the contracts are guaranteed. There isn't an agent around that would allow that to happen. Now, the NBA can suspend a player without pay if he violates the league's drug policy, and if a player amasses enough technical fouls to warrant a league suspension (I believe that the magic number is 17), that too is without pay. But I don't think that you're ever going to see an NBA contract that dings a player for being a baby or a brat.

C-riCh also has a Cousins question: "Just recently, DeMarcus Cousins was quoted as saying that his natural position is at Power Forward. This same topic was even discussed on last week's Cowbell Kingdom Podcast.

Now I feel that Cousins is best suited for the Center position with a shot blocking PF (such as a Serge Ibaka type player) for his front-court mate. Seeing that Cousins isn't much of an elite defender, I don't see him succeeding at a position where the opposition will be much more mobile than he is.

I just think that if you wanna play a certain position in the NBA, you have to DEFEND that position full time as well.

So should Mike Malone keep Cousins in the middle or give him his wish and try him out at the 4? What's your take on this?"

I see the front line as one item, and I think it's OK for a guy to be a "center" on one end and a "power forward" on the other. Cousins would be at his best with a guy that can provide interior defense and work the high pick and roll on offense, which would free up the low post for Cuz. We're not getting Joakim Noah (or Ibaka, for that matter), but either of those guys would work great with Cousins. Noah is listed as a center, while Ibaka is listed as a power forward, but both guys would work well with Cousins. So in the end, it really doesn't matter much, other than the pregame player introductions, I suppose. Given that the all-star teams don't have to select a "center" anymore, I don't think that the position title matters at all.

Kick on your heels - it's polotown: "Is there any player on any team as polarizing as Demarcus Cousins? My view of DMC can swing from optimistic to pessimistic 3 times a day.

adamsite had an interesting comment today; he said: "I also feel that this debate is unique to Kings fans, as in other fan bases wouldn't have as much a problem maxing out Cousins on their respective teams. We are a fragile and damaged fanbase. We haven't seen good basketball, coaching, or management in some time. We have definitely have trust issues. Our fanbase hasn't had this kind of talk in maxing out a player since Webber. Some of us still feel the pain (no pun intended) when Webber crumpled to the floor and his contract suddenly wasn't what is was supposed to be. We haven't been lucky and our glasses continue to be viewed as half empty."

Even Jimmer discussions don't elicit the emotional response that Cousins raises. I suspect that is because Jimmer is a marginal player for the Kings. So, how about other fanbases? Are there any other teams that have one of their top players raise so much angst within their fanbase? Are the Kings unique? Do we have the sports equivalent of battered spouse syndrome, or is it all on DMC?"

I can't think of anyone more polarizing than Cousins at the moment. I'm sure that Carmelo Anthony has his detractors in New York, but that's as close as I can come. And I certainly agree that the Kings fan base as a whole is still a raw, exposed, extremely sensitive nerve right now. Heck, we'll inspect pick-up game video as though it was the Zapruder film in an effort to glorify/denigrate Tyreke Evans in an effort to make ourselves feel better/worse about his exodus. Crazy.

But since I was looking for an opening to post some random and largely non-conclusive statistics involving DeMarcus Cousins, I think that I'll take advantage of that opportunity right now, even though it has virtually nothing to do with your question, other than it had the name "DeMarcus Cousins" in it.

Begin rant -

I wanted to get a grasp on where Cousins when it comes to the two things that would most lead to him making a lot of money: scoring and rebounding. Cousins isn't being considered for a max deal because of his defense, or his passing, or his presence as a glue guy (this reminds me of when we talked about Ron Artest being a glue guy, and someone offered "yeah, CrazyGlue." Good times...). When DeMarcus Cousins gets paid, it's going to be primarily for his ability to score and rebound the basketball.

There are a few ways to chart someone's scoring ability. You can go with points per game, but that does not consider if the player is efficient or a chucker. Field goal percentage does not take a player's effectiveness from 3-point range into account. Adjusted (or effective) field goal percentage does that, but does not consider a player's contributions from the free throw line. Points per shot includes the points scored from the line, but really doesn't consider the free throw attempts. For me, true shooting percentage is the truest metric. It factors a player's 2-point and 3-point shots against total attempts, and includes free throw points (it calculates the attempts at .44 to take into account that not every two free throws equals a shot - sometimes it's an and one or a technical shot).

While true shooting percentage is the truest metric for me, it must be utilized in an apples to apples environment. You can't really compare Cousins and Jason Thompson, for example, since Cousins was the Kings #1 offensive option last year and Thompson was #5 (based on shots per game for each player). And comparing a list of bigs works if you are looking at other volume shooters such as Zach Randolph and Al Jefferson (both #1 options for their respective teams), but it is not a fair comparison if you are using more reticent shooters such as Tyson Chandler (#5 option among Knicks that played at least half the season) and Joakim Noah (#4 option on the Bulls).

For this exercise, I extracted the leading shot taker for each of the 30 NBA teams. That is, the guy that took more total shots over the course of the season than anyone else on their team. Surprise #1: Russell Westbrook shoots more than Kevin Durant. Wowsers. I then bounced the team's true shooting percentage against the leading shot taker for each team. Note: the team total includes the leading shot taker, so if the leading shot taker has a better/worse true shooting percentage than the team, the difference that is listed would grow even greater if you backed his numbers out of the team total. With that said, here's the list:

TEAM

W-L

TEAM TS

SHOT LEADER

SL TS

DIFFERENCE

Heat

66-16

58.8%

James

64.0%

5.2%

Thunder

60-22

58.0%

Westbrook

53.2%

-4.8%

Spurs

58-24

56.7%

Parker

58.8%

2.1%

Nuggets

57-25

54.9%

Lawson

54.9%

0.0%

Clippers

56-26

55.7%

Griffin

57.2%

1.5%

Grizzlies

56-26

51.4%

Randolph

50.6%

-0.8%

Knicks

54-28

55.0%

Anthony

56.0%

1.0%

Nets

49-33

53.6%

Williams

57.4%

3.8%

Pacers

49-32

52.1%

George

53.1%

1.0%

Warriors

47-35

54.5%

Curry

58.9%

4.4%

Rockets

45-37

56.4%

Harden

60.0%

3.6%

Lakers

45-37

54.8%

Bryant

57.0%

2.2%

Bulls

45-37

51.2%

Boozer

51.0%

-0.2%

Hawks

44-38

54.6%

Smith

50.1%

-4.5%

Jazz

43-39

53.2%

Jefferson

52.2%

-1.1%

Mavericks

41-41

54.4%

Mayo

55.6%

1.2%

Celtics

41-40

54.2%

Pierce

55.9%

1.7%

Bucks

38-44

51.0%

Ellis

49.3%

-1.7%

Raptors

34-48

53.2%

DeRozan

52.3%

-0.9%

Sixers

34-48

50.9%

Holiday

49.6%

-1.6%

Blazers

33-49

53.6%

Aldridge

53.0%

-0.6%

Timberwolves

31-51

51.7%

Ridnour

53.2%

1.5%

Pistons

29-53

52.1%

Monroe

52.7%

0.6%

Wizards

29-53

51.2%

Wall

52.1%

0.9%

Kings

28-54

53.2%

Cousins

52.4%

-0.8%

Pelicans

27-55

52.8%

Anderson

54.8%

2.0%

Suns

25-57

51.2%

Scola

51.6%

0.4%

Cavaliers

24-58

51.4%

Irving

55.3%

3.8%

Bobcats

21-61

50.7%

Walker

51.7%

1.0%

Magic

20-62

51.4%

Afflalo

52.7%

1.3%

I listed this in order of win-loss record to see if there was any sort of trend. The answer is "kinda sorta." Of the 16 teams that were .500 or better, 11 of them had leading shot takers convert at a rate greater than their team. But 9 of the 14 that finished below the line also accomplished this, so "meh." The Westbrook number (both in volume and inefficiency when compared to his team) is startling. The Josh Smith number for the Hawks is not quite as surprising. James' and Harden's numbers are nuts, and I didn't expect Deron Williams to both lead his team in shots and also post such a considerable positive difference. OK, let's resort this in order of true shooting percentage:

TEAM

TEAM TS

SHOT LEADER

SL TS

DIFFERENCE

Heat

58.8%

James

64.0%

5.2%

Rockets

56.4%

Harden

60.0%

3.6%

Warriors

54.5%

Curry

58.9%

4.4%

Spurs

56.7%

Parker

58.8%

2.1%

Nets

53.6%

Williams

57.4%

3.8%

Clippers

55.7%

Griffin

57.2%

1.5%

Lakers

54.8%

Bryant

57.0%

2.2%

Knicks

55.0%

Anthony

56.0%

1.0%

Celtics

54.2%

Pierce

55.9%

1.7%

Mavericks

54.4%

Mayo

55.6%

1.2%

Cavaliers

51.4%

Irving

55.3%

3.8%

Nuggets

54.9%

Lawson

54.9%

0.0%

Pelicans

52.8%

Anderson

54.8%

2.0%

Thunder

58.0%

Westbrook

53.2%

-4.8%

Timberwolves

51.7%

Ridnour

53.2%

1.5%

Pacers

52.1%

George

53.1%

1.0%

Blazers

53.6%

Aldridge

53.0%

-0.6%

Pistons

52.1%

Monroe

52.7%

0.6%

Magic

51.4%

Afflalo

52.7%

1.3%

Kings

53.2%

Cousins

52.4%

-0.8%

Raptors

53.2%

DeRozan

52.3%

-0.9%

Jazz

53.2%

Jefferson

52.2%

-1.1%

Wizards

51.2%

Wall

52.1%

0.9%

Bobcats

50.7%

Walker

51.7%

1.0%

Suns

51.2%

Scola

51.6%

0.4%

Bulls

51.2%

Boozer

51.0%

-0.2%

Grizzlies

51.4%

Randolph

50.6%

-0.8%

Hawks

54.6%

Smith

50.1%

-4.5%

Sixers

50.9%

Holiday

49.6%

-1.6%

Bucks

51.0%

Ellis

49.3%

-1.7%

Cousins ranks 20th among this list of volume shot takers. Now let's sort it out by difference:

TEAM

TEAM TS

SHOT LEADER

SL TS

DIFFERENCE

Heat

58.8%

James

64.0%

5.2%

Warriors

54.5%

Curry

58.9%

4.4%

Cavaliers

51.4%

Irving

55.3%

3.8%

Nets

53.6%

Williams

57.4%

3.8%

Rockets

56.4%

Harden

60.0%

3.6%

Lakers

54.8%

Bryant

57.0%

2.2%

Spurs

56.7%

Parker

58.8%

2.1%

Pelicans

52.8%

Anderson

54.8%

2.0%

Celtics

54.2%

Pierce

55.9%

1.7%

Timberwolves

51.7%

Ridnour

53.2%

1.5%

Clippers

55.7%

Griffin

57.2%

1.5%

Magic

51.4%

Afflalo

52.7%

1.3%

Mavericks

54.4%

Mayo

55.6%

1.2%

Bobcats

50.7%

Walker

51.7%

1.0%

Pacers

52.1%

George

53.1%

1.0%

Knicks

55.0%

Anthony

56.0%

1.0%

Wizards

51.2%

Wall

52.1%

0.9%

Pistons

52.1%

Monroe

52.7%

0.6%

Suns

51.2%

Scola

51.6%

0.4%

Nuggets

54.9%

Lawson

54.9%

0.0%

Bulls

51.2%

Boozer

51.0%

-0.2%

Blazers

53.6%

Aldridge

53.0%

-0.6%

Grizzlies

51.4%

Randolph

50.6%

-0.8%

Kings

53.2%

Cousins

52.4%

-0.8%

Raptors

53.2%

DeRozan

52.3%

-0.9%

Jazz

53.2%

Jefferson

52.2%

-1.1%

Sixers

50.9%

Holiday

49.6%

-1.6%

Bucks

51.0%

Ellis

49.3%

-1.7%

Hawks

54.6%

Smith

50.1%

-4.5%

Thunder

58.0%

Westbrook

53.2%

-4.8%

Cousins drops into a tie for 24th.

There are certainly things that are not being considered here. Most of the guys at the top of the list create for themselves, while guys like Cousins have to count on their teammates to deliver the ball. On the other hand, no one is putting a gun to Cousins' head and telling him to force up shots - he could always kick the ball back out if a legitimate look at the basket was not there for him. But for grins, let's reduce this list to the guys that play up front:

TEAM

TEAM TS

SHOT LEADER

SL TS

DIFFERENCE

Pelicans

52.8%

Anderson

54.8%

2.0%

Clippers

55.7%

Griffin

57.2%

1.5%

Knicks

55.0%

Anthony

56.0%

1.0%

Pistons

52.1%

Monroe

52.7%

0.6%

Suns

51.2%

Scola

51.6%

0.4%

Bulls

51.2%

Boozer

51.0%

-0.2%

Blazers

53.6%

Aldridge

53.0%

-0.6%

Grizzlies

51.4%

Randolph

50.6%

-0.8%

Kings

53.2%

Cousins

52.4%

-0.8%

Jazz

53.2%

Jefferson

52.2%

-1.1%

Hawks

54.6%

Smith

50.1%

-4.5%

Yes, you could certainly make the argument that Anthony and Anderson are stretch fours, but they still played largely up front. Cousins finishes 6th out of 11 in TS% here, and tied for 8th in difference.

If I'm picking up the pro-Cousins shield here, I correctly point out that Anderson and Anthony really aren't true comparisons. And that has some merit. Blake Griffin benefits from playing with Chris Paul, but the fact that he can oop after Paul alleys certainly helps his cause as well.

The fairest comparisons are probably Monroe, Scola, Boozer, Aldridge, Randolph and Jefferson. Cousins ranks 3rd out of 7 in TS% here, and tied for 5th in difference.

No matter how you look at this, I can't fathom how you would pay max dollars to Cousins based on these numbers. But we're not done yet...

Next, I took a look at the leading rebounder for each team. I went by rebounds per game, excluding Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao due to their lack of games played. I chose rebounds per game over rebounds per minute, because comparing DeMarcus Cousins to Thomas Robinson makes no sense whatsoever. I wanted the comparison to be among the guys that are actually going up and getting the ball game after game (suspensions notwithstanding). I also felt that their rebounding percentage (the percentage of available rebounds that they grab) would be a telling number. Here's the list in order of rebounds per game:

REB LEADER

RPG

REB %

Howard

12.4

19.1%

Vucevic

11.9

20.2%

Asik

11.7

22.0%

Randolph

11.2

19.3%

Lee

11.2

16.8%

Evans

11.1

26.7%

Noah

11.1

22.6%

Chandler

10.7

19.0%

Hickson

10.4

20.7%

Horford

10.2

15.7%

Duncan

9.9

19.1%

Cousins

9.9

18.7%

Monroe

9.6

16.7%

Sanders

9.5

18.6%

Thompson

9.4

17.5%

Faried

9.2

18.3%

Jefferson

9.2

16.3%

Pekovic

8.8

19.0%

Okafor

8.8

18.7%

Gortat

8.5

15.6%

Hibbert

8.3

16.1%

Griffin

8.3

15.2%

Davis

8.2

16.8%

James

8.0

13.1%

Durant

7.9

11.8%

Garnett

7.8

15.5%

Marion

7.8

14.5%

Johnson

7.5

15.6%

Young

7.5

12.3%

Biyombo

7.3

15.2%

Tie for 11th. Now we're talking! Names that at least mildly surprise include Hickson, James, Durant and Marion. Next, let's rank it by rebounding percentage:

REB LEADER

RPG

REB %

Evans

11.1

26.7%

Noah

11.1

22.6%

Asik

11.7

22.0%

Hickson

10.4

20.7%

Vucevic

11.9

20.2%

Randolph

11.2

19.3%

Howard

12.4

19.1%

Duncan

9.9

19.1%

Chandler

10.7

19.0%

Pekovic

8.8

19.0%

Cousins

9.9

18.7%

Okafor

8.8

18.7%

Sanders

9.5

18.6%

Faried

9.2

18.3%

Thompson

9.4

17.5%

Lee

11.2

16.8%

Davis

8.2

16.8%

Monroe

9.6

16.7%

Jefferson

9.2

16.3%

Hibbert

8.3

16.1%

Horford

10.2

15.7%

Gortat

8.5

15.6%

Johnson

7.5

15.6%

Garnett

7.8

15.5%

Griffin

8.3

15.2%

Biyombo

7.3

15.2%

Marion

7.8

14.5%

James

8.0

13.1%

Young

7.5

12.3%

Durant

7.9

11.8%

Still tied for 11th. Cuzsistency! Reggie Evans' ridiculous rate might explain a little of Brook Lopez's shrinking rebounding numbers. And it's amazing how Noah and Lee grab roughly the same number of rebounds, but how much higher of a percentage Noah's numbers are.

So Cousins' rebounding numbers are much stronger than his scoring numbers. Cuz's detractors will state that this is in part due to him going "Moses Malone" on his own repeated misses, but I'll leave it to other to pick that fly sh*t out of the pepper. Carve it up however you like, but Cousins is a very, very good rebounder by NBA standards.

Alrighty then. Now for some fun. Let's take just the guys that show up on both the true shooting and rebounding lists:

SHOT LEADER

SL TS

DIFFERENCE

RPG

REB %

Cousins

52.4%

-0.8%

9.9

18.7%

Griffin

57.2%

1.5%

8.3

15.2%

James

64.0%

5.2%

8.0

13.1%

Jefferson

52.2%

-1.1%

9.2

16.3%

Monroe

52.7%

0.6%

9.6

16.7%

Randolph

50.6%

-0.8%

11.2

19.3%

On this list, Cousins ranks 4th out 6 in TS%, tied for 4th in difference, 2nd in RPG and 2nd in REB%.

There are six guys on this list. How many of them are deserving of a max deal?

Lebron James is probably deserving of two or three max deals, so let's move on.

Griffin is the next guy on the list. Great TS% from a guy that leads his team in shots, but not spectacular on the rebounding end. Definitely a max guy, though.

The guys that really line up with Cousins on this list are Randolph, Jefferson and Monroe. Would you pay any of those guys the max right now? Would you even consider it? I wouldn't. Jefferson, age 28, just signed a 3 year deal worth $13.7m a year. Randolph makes $17.8m this year and $16.5m next year on what is his 3rd contract (which is historically the "big" contract for an upper-end NBA player...Jefferson's deal is his 3rd contract as well). Monroe is on roughly the same scale as Cousins, as he enters the last year of his rookie contract.

In short (or I guess in long), we can stop debating whether or not Cousins' numbers make him deserving of a max deal. They don't. They just simply don't.

But...

The four or five year deal that Cousins gets next won't be for services rendered. It will be for what he is projected to do over the next four or five years. Such is the life of pro sports. Getting paid for what you've actually already earned is for you chumps in the private sector. Did you take an agent in with you when you negotiated your last raise?

And that's where those that say max Cousins now have a legitimate case. Unless Cousins implodes to new depths this year, he's going to get paid next year, and he's going to get paid the max. That's life in the NBA. Remember, the max for Cousins will still be less than the max for any free agent entering their third contract. He could be a max 2nd contract player and still be a value to contract over the span of that contract. Or things could go horribly wrong. Or something in between. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that it will be somewhere in one of those ranges, but don't quote me on it.

Add to this the very real fact that Cousins is here, whereas the guy that you would get to replace Cousins is not (Yogi214 strikes again!), meaning that the bird in the hand might be preferable to flushing out the bush (feel free to run with that one in the thread). The Kings brass could be determining at least in part that retaining Cousins has a higher percentage of return on investment than venturing out onto the free agent market or rolling the dice on yet more draft picks and young prospects.

So yeah, I'm still in the camp that would like to see Cousins display some Cuzsistency for at least three consecutive months before entertaining the notion of maxing him out. But I sure do understand and see a lot of merit in the other side of this discussion. It's not about rewarding bad behavior (again, this is not the average workplace that we are talking about here). It's about investing in the future, albeit with one (or both) eyes covered. Whatever is determined, I will eventually support the decision with a combination of hope and dread.

End Rant

-

Pick & Droll #1, courtesy Steve: "My friend and I each bought a season ticket so we are splitting a full season package for two in nose bleed section. He will attend 20 plus with his wife and I will do the same with my wife. We felt it was the thing to do in support of new ownership and hopefully by time arena built we will move down some rows. Hopefully the team will move back to respectable over next few years but they need to find someone who can hit big shots at end of games."

This begs a question of our season ticket holders. How much did the new arena factor into you buying tickets this year? How much of it was the new ownership? And how much of it was about this season in particular? What were your motivations (and in what rough percentages)?

Pick & Droll #2 comes from djrick: "Heading into August, time is running out to enjoy the summer. Where would you like to go on a roadtrip? What was the best or worst past roadtrip you ever made?"

The recent pilgrimage to Vegas was my road trip for this summer. My best past road trips were to Phoenix, where I would meet up with my Chicago buddies for MLB spring training, golf, softball, ASU co-eds and the occasional beverage. I did that for an eight year run through the mid-80's and early 90's. Lifetime memory stuff. I really don't recall a truly bad road trip - I guess that I've been really lucky in that regard.

-

Send your questions and topic ideas to asksactownroyalty@gmail.com. The thread is now open for your jacking...unless you want to talk about DeMarcus Cousins some more.

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We have our own Community Guidelines at Sactown Royalty. You should read them.

Join Sactown Royalty

You must be a member of Sactown Royalty to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Sactown Royalty. You should read them.

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