DeMarcus Cousins is a very polarizing figure among fans. His talent is undeniable, but it's all the other stuff that gets the attention and for good reason, as the Kings have yet to win more than 33 games in a season with DeMarcus Cousins. Not all that can be pinned on Cousins of course, but he isn't entirely blameless either. A team will usually go as far as their best player can take them.
As per the poll, the grading scale I used was as follows:
B: Exceeds Expectations
C: Met Expectations
D: Below Expectations
Feel free to share what your own individual grades are in the comments below!
Koufos didn't surprise or necessarily disappoint, so he gets a C. I have to admit I thought he would make more of an impact coming into the season serving as a backup to Cousins or alongside him. Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein looked like a much better fit next to Cousins and with Karl tinkering with Gay at the four, Koufos really didn't see a huge bump in his minutes this season from last in Memphis (16.6 minutes to 19 minutes per game). His defense at times looked formidable, but not enough to move the needle much on that side of the ball.
Hard worker, guarded his man tough, good rebounder, never took a play off... but MAN, Kosta misses 60-75% of his easy shots. I wonder how the next coach will use him, as the Cousins/Koufos lineups weren't great, but he's a guy who I'll never complain about having on the team.
Rough season for Kosta. It quickly became apparent that he doesn't pair well with Boogie, which poses a problem for the team moving forward. That said, I still like the signing and think he's on a favorable deal.
Kosta was a consummate professional for the Kings and came in a did what he was told to do. He did in Sacramento what he's done everywhere he's gone: be a solid back-up big. If he'd have made a few more of those "automatic" hook shots, I'd have probably say he exceeded my expectations, and yet, here we are.
Kosta is the type of guy who will never be appreciated on a losing team. He plays a very ugly game of basketball, but that is actually what I like from him. Aside from the rims hating him this year (seriously can't remember a player missing more shots that looked good but just didn't bounce in) I thought he did his job fine, though he was often put in lineups that he did not belong in.
I gave Kosta Koufos a "C." This is neither meant to be a good or bad grade for Koufos, as he really was neither good or bad. He was just...Kosta Koufos. Better at his job than Rajon Rondo or Rudy Gay were at their jobs, as good as his job as Cousins was at his job, and not as good as Collison was at his job.
Koufos was signed to be the Kings second best big in the short term, moving to the third chair if/when Willie Cauley-Stein developed. Koufos wound up playing 70 more minutes than WCS, though WCS averaged 2.4 minutes per game. Some of the per 36 minute numbers for Koufos and WCS are startlingly similar: 12.9ppg for Koufos and 11.8ppg for Koufos (with Koufos taking 2.2 more shots), 10.3rpg for Koufos and 9.0 for WCS. Blocks, assists, steals and turnovers either identical or within one or two-tenths of a percentage point.
One of the misnomers was that Koufos was getting WCS minutes. If there was a draw on WCS' minutes, it was the smaller lineup that put either Rudy Gay or Omri Casspi at the four. Koufos played the bulk of his minutes behind Cousins, with only a few minutes per game (or less) coming alongside Cousins. The extra 25 pounds that Koufos packed over WCS made him the better candidate to battle the bigger bigs, and Koufos certainly has a more refined offensive game than Cauley-Stein. The end result was about an average performance for Koufos, while playing for a below average team. Kosta Koufos was neither cause nor cure of the Kings' ills this season.
I was pretty happy with the Koufos signing this summer, and not just because the Kings had finally signed a Greek to the team. Koufos was legitimately one of the best backup bigs in the entire NBA in Memphis, showcasing solid defense and rebounding while not being completely useless on offense.
In Sacramento, Koufos continued to be a solid big man, but struggled playing in lineups with DeMarcus Cousins. Their fit together is not great and Koufos suffered for it. If Koufos is back on the team next season (and I think the Kings can't afford to bring him back if they also want to add Ryan Anderson) I hope Dave Joerger will utilize him better.
Out of 1,061 responses, 56.5% voted for C, 25.9% voted for B, 14.2% voted for D, 2% voted for F and 1.4% voted for A. On a 4 point grading scale, this comes out to a 2.11, a C.
Cousins had another dominant season - 26.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks. He expanded his game and proved he could shoot from the outside. He dealt with frustration all season long as he couldn't seem to connect with his coach and at times he let that frustration show. Frustration continues to be a part of the Cousins package. Until that frustration gets under wraps and he leads the Kings to a winning season, it will be hard to give Boogie an A.
I'm an avid Boogie supporter who would/will be very disappointed/depressed if/when he is traded, but this wasn't a great season for him. Statistics wise, he was a beast and notched his career high in points while demonstrating he can be utilized past the three point line, but the organizational breakdown destroyed any long-term development amongst the team. Regardless of my faith in the big man, it was another dysfunctional season and he deserves a good amount of the blame. Here's hoping the organization can find the right pieces to make things click in place.
This is the averaging of two grades. On court production is an A. On-court and locker room demeanor is a D. For as much as I've sided with Cousins in the feud with Karl, Cousins was a disappointment this year despite his amazing play. He is now, without question, one of the best big men in the league. But that is constantly overshadowed by his on-court theatrics and feuds with the coaching staff. Average the two out and you get great play with a bunch of negatives added in. That meets my current expectations for Boogie, I suppose.
I know DeMarcus Cousins is a lightning rod for debate and yes, he is an imperfect basketball player, but with that being said, DeMarcus met expectations this year. The guy was fourth in the league in scoring, and fifth in the league in rebounding and made himself into someone who had to be picked up at the 3 point line, shooting 33.3% from deep. The development of the long range shot was an unexpected addition and it's tempting in itself to say he exceed my expectations for the consistency of that new wrinkle to his game alone. But, as much as it helped DeMarcus get to rim and draw fouls from slower defenders, it could also kill the ball movement or momentum the Kings had when he went for the home run play. When healthy, DeMarcus Cousins could score 36, 24, 48 and 56 points in a stretch while also grabbing 16,16, 13 and 12 boards in that same span of time. When he wants to be he can be the most dominant offensive big man in the league. Then on the other hand, he also maxed out on technical fouls and missed time due to injuries. Unfortunately, I don't really think anyone expected anything different on that end either.
Boogie had a great year despite all the nonsense. Sure, some will pin the nonsense on him instead of Karl, but DeMarcus wasn't the one undermining the team in the offseason, and, while vocal, his thoughts on the coach were not exclusive to himself. As the leader, we need more wins for an A, and we need to cut down on the outbursts towards coaches and refs, even if both wouldn't fit for their jobs at the local YMCA. This is especially true when they do have effects on the game. I am sure my views on this will cause no controversy whatsoever, but I didn't have many problems with his season that weren't the result of the bigger picture.
"C" is for Cuz, mainly because "T" is not a grade, but a way of life.
I'll clarify the grade by stipulating that Cousins was far and away the best player on the Kings, and that there will be other players that receive higher grades. But I'm not comparing Cousins to the other players on this team. I am comparing Cousins to other all stars in the league, and among those guys a "C" grade might be a tad generous. DeMarcus Cousins does not really seem to make his teammates better, so his accomplishments can really be viewed in a vacuum. His raw numbers are elite, but he was among the most inefficient high usage players in the league this year. His missed shots and turnovers totaled 15.1 per game. Only James Harden (15.6) was worse. For perspective, Anthony Davis came in at 11.4. Al Horford was at 7.6 and Paull Millsap was at 9.4. Now, one might purport that Cousins was forced to do more based on the talent that was around him. But the Kings were 11-48 in games that his usage exceeded 35%, 1-12 when it exceed 40% (h/t Otis). The Kings had a .600 winning percentage when he took fewer than 20 shots, and a .350 winning percentage when he took more than 20 shots (h/t BeTheBall).
I look at this another way. Lay out Cousins' numbers, the good, bad and ugly. Next, erase his name and put Harden next to those numbers, or Blake Griffin. What would you say about Harden or Griffin if they were putting up Cousins' total stat line while their respective teams logged a 33-49 record?
Wind this season back to the summer of 2015. Next, instead of Cousins sending out cryptic texts of snakes and grasses, he instead embraces his new teammates. Instead of undermining his head coach, he sets his massive ego aside and buys into what the coach is selling, 100%. Do you see more or less than 33 wins? I see more. This is not to say that the coach had a perfect vision, or even one that was right for this roster. But 100% buy-in by the team's best player would have had to have led to greater chances for success. Instead, we got another season of the DeMarcus Cousins pout-fest in all its glory, and Cousins led his team to a career high 33 wins.
Simply stated, if you were happy with DeMarcus Cousins this season, you are happy with the Kings not playing basketball into May. He must be better for his team to be better...or he must be somewhere else.
You know it hasn't been a great season when you're giving your best player a C grade. DeMarcus Cousins is easily Sacramento's best player, and one of the best players to ever put on a Sacramento Kings uniform. So why was I disappointed in his season?
It all comes down to wins. The big numbers are expected at this point. We've seen how far a team that relies on DeMarcus Cousins as their Alpha and Omega to operate gets, and it isn't very far. Karl and Cousins were a toxic mix to be sure, but Cousins did himself no favors by continuing to let emotions and outside influences affect his game.
Cousins is a great player, but for the Kings to become a good team, he has to become a great teammate. That requires him to buy in, and the only time it's really felt like he has bought in was under Mike Malone. Hopefully Dave Joerger can do the same, but at some point it has to be up to DeMarcus Cousins to want to make a change and it can't always be up to others to work around him. I think this is going to be the defining year for Cousins' future in Sacramento, because if things don't work out yet again, I can't see the Kings continuing to justify building a team around him. I want Cousins to succeed in Sacramento so bad because he's a great player and a great member of the community, but at some point, you have to cut your losses.
Out of 1,067 responses, 36% voted for B, 32.8% voted for C, 12.7% voted for A, 11.7% voted for D and 6.7% voted for F. On a 4 point grading scale, this averaged out to a 2.36, a C+.
Coming Monday: Front Office and Coaching