by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista

Since his rookie season, DeMarcus Cousins has been the subject of a portrait unflatteringly painted by the media. But on the court, his game is pure art.

Smooth, quick, versatile, crafty—he has the size, tools and skill to rank among the game’s elite. So what’s holding him back? Nothing, if you look at his numbers. His 17 points, 10 rebounds and 45 percent shooting are more than promising for the third-year center. This season, he is averaging a career-low 3.5 fouls in a career-high 31.6 minutes.

However, his team is perennially at the bottom of the standings. That is due more to the Kings than Cousins. With a dearth of veteran leadership, constant talk of relocation and new ownership, and an ever changing roster, it is nearly impossible for Cousins to build a foundation when the one around him is always crumbling.

When Cousins has a real chance to grow, it would be no surprise if he transforms into the franchise center he has the potential to be. Plus, in a few years, he may turn into the veteran in the locker room that he never had.