Lost in the arena bustle is the fact that DeMarcus Cousins is having a totally bizarre season. Wednesday night's game was another example: he played only 20 minutes due to ineffectiveness, shot 2-10 for five points, picked up four rebounds and -- now it gets weird -- four steals, three assists and a block. On Tuesday against the Nuggets, he was just as bad on offense: 1-12 for eight points, or eight points on 17 shooting possessions. But like on Wednesday, he contributed something positive: five blocks and 13 rebounds in 27 minutes.
So in the back-to-back Cousins had 13 points ... and 10 combined blocks and steals. Even at his worst -- which is really quite bad, I mean come on, 13 points on 27 shooting possessions over two games! -- he's contributing something. Ten blocks and steals over two games is huge. And though Boogie has had his typical possessions where he rotates late, or rests on his laurels until the opponent is in a great scoring position, he's been overall rather engaged defensively. He's just taking some awful shots and missing everything.
On the season, Cousins is actually more efficient than ever (which isn't saying a whole lot). While his two-point field goal percentage has remained just about level and his free throws per 36 minutes has been steady, free throws now make up a greater percentage of a shooting possession profile. Cousins' usage has fallen due to fewer field goal attempts per minute. He was at 18 per 36 last season (one every two minutes of court time), and he's at 16 this season (one every two minutes and 15 seconds). Because he shoots free throws well, he's marginally more efficient this season.
But he hasn't made the huge efficiency jump required to become a really valuable player. His shooting percentage is too low at 44 percent. If he killed some of his worst shots -- many of which come when he moves to the basket and throws something up in an attempt to draw a foul -- that would rise. He doesn't get a lot of post touches, but he can score on mid-rung or worse defenders down there. He's a capable shooter from the long mid-range on the left side of the floor. It's all the other slop that kills his efficiency.
And of course, there's the sulking. The arguing. The evident frustration. It hasn't gotten any better. At all. I don't know what will solve it, and I doubt many others do, either. If he can perform better -- closer to his potential -- it won't matter. We'll accept the annoying stuff because the good stuff will be worth it. But he needs to improve that efficiency and engage consistently on defense. That's what will help him make the leap, whether he can temper his temper or not.
I still don't think it's in the Kings' interest to move him. The team needs a strong perimeter scorer (Tyreke barely shoots any more!) to balance it out, and while Jason Thompson is playing well I'd still like to see how much Chuck Hayes can get Cousins to work defensively. It's become pretty clear that JT and DMC don't get along well. Perhaps a change in the starting lineup -- with JT and Patrick Patterson coming off the bench in the frontcourt, with JT able to cover both positions -- would help matters.
I don't think Cousins is going to get that extension this summer, which puts him on the same track as Evans: prove it in Year 4.