Going to Be OK
DeMarcus Cousins does things his own way.
by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista
DeMarcus Cousins comes into the locker room after the game. He takes his time putting on his sneakers—no G’s or LV’s—just a pair of Converse. It doesn’t really go with his pink Disney backpack, but I’m guessing only the shoes were his choice.
It has been an up and down start for Cousins—questions about his demeanor during the draft, a dominant summer league, and then an inconsistent first half of his rookie season. But Cousins has shown a knack for the game, good instincts and court vision, and an ability to put up stats that reveal immense raw talent.
In January, Cousins is averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds on 46% shooting. While the Kings have floundered, hopefully they can find solace in potential. The Kings may have been a bit overzealous after Cousins torched the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging nearly 15 points and 10 rebounds in less than 30 minutes. Before Cousins touched a ball in an actual NBA game, the Kings constructed a marketing campaign around him and reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. Cousins saturated the team’s website, as Sacramento was hoping for instant gratification rather than a process.
Asked about the pressure of having a marketing campaign dedicated to him as a rookie, Cousins says, “It’s a lot of pressure, especially being so young but I mean the pressure comes with the territory and the expectations come with the territory so you just gotta deal with it.”
One of my favorite lines about the culture of today’s league came from Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins earlier this season. Hollins said, “Today, I think a lot more status is attached to guys really before they’ve earned it.” Cousins is just another example of the system.
With the Kings being such a young team, there doesn’t seem to be many vocal leaders and veterans to keep the younger guys in check and teach them the ropes. WhileCousins says he has guys on the team he can talk to as well as his agent, many people do not realize the impact veterans have on the development of young players.
And while Cousins has had some questionable behavior throughout the season, he seems neither aloof nor disingenuous. Asked how he perceives himself compared to the way others view him, Cousins says, “I mean I know who I am, I know what I do, but the way other people view me, I mean they’re gonna have any opinion regardless if it’s the truth or not.”
Is it hard to deal with some of that when they’re questioning your maturity?
“Cause I know me.”
So you feel like you can handle it?
“I know I got some growing up to do. I mean, I’m a young person. But they expect me to know it right away and I mean that’s not possible.”
It’s all about making adjustments?
In fact, all the players on the Kings team will have to make adjustments on the way to learning how to play winning basketball. On his rookie season, Cousins says, “It’s been a process. Everybody goes through a process.” Part of the process will include growing with the young core in Sacramento.
As Cousins puts on his sneakers, it’s easy to forget—especially with his face on a banner representing the future of an organization—to take things one step at a time. He’ll find his way.