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KANGZ A-Z: DeMarcus Cousins

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DeMarcus Cousins was a good basketball player for the Sacramento Kings, but they needed him to be more than that — for his sake and theirs

Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: As the NBA shutdown continues (though there are signs of progress!), we’ll be taking a look back at Kings history through the Cincinnati Royals and Kansas City days to identify the best players for each letter of the alphabet. We hope you enjoy KANGZ, A-Z.

For the greater half of the past decade, DeMarcus Cousins was the best player on the Sacramento Kings, and it wasn’t particularly close.

In his seven seasons with the Kings, Cousins averaged 21.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Cousins and Chris Webber are the only two players in Kings history to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds through five seasons with the team.

By all accounts, he was a good — and sometimes even great — basketball player. The problem with Cousins is that his talent came at wholly unnecessary cost, and the Kings decided they didn’t want to pay it anymore when they traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017. Of course, there was the monetary value tied to Cousins and his unrestricted free agency in 2018, but the cost I’m referring to is Cousins’ behavior.

Whether it was directed towards the refs or his head coach, Cousins always had a bone to pick with someone — and in his defense, there were no shortage of bones to pick during his tenure in Sacramento. At a certain point, though, the expectation was that Cousins would grow out of it, or, at the very least put it aside so he could be the leader the Kings needed him to be. In the six years he was in Sacramento, that moment never arrived for Cousins, and it seems he still can’t get out of his own way.

Was DeMarcus Cousins a good basketball player? Absolutely — definitely one of the best players to ever wear a Kings uniform. Was Cousins always treated fairly by officials and the general media? No. But even with all of that mind, he left behind a complicated legacy in Sacramento, and it’s only grown more complicated since his departure.