by Jonathan Santiago / @ITSjonsantiago
With the exception of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen’s Chicago Bulls, championship contenders have always featured two crucial components: a dominant low-post force and a skilled perimeter-presence.
With the reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and this year’s fifth overall pick DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings potentially have those pieces in position.
“This is the place I wanted to be,” Cousins said of Sacramento during his introductory press conference yesterday afternoon.
Playing alongside a great guard won’t be anything new for Cousins. Having run with John Wall last season at Kentucky will surely help Cousins understand how he can work in tandem with last season’s fourth overall pick.
“Once we get to work together (and) build a chemistry,” Cousins began. “I think we’ll work out just fine.”
Cousins is no stranger to Evans’ game. The former Kentucky standout mentioned he met Evans while the two were in high school and instantly became a fan of his play.
The Kings newest addition brings another big body defenses will have to pay attention to. Trading for Carl Landry at last season’s deadline brought the Kings an inside-scoring presence they lacked. Throw in the mix the shot-blocking ability of Samuel Dalembert and the freakish length of fellow-rookie Hassan Whiteside and the Kings have themselves set up quite nicely at the big positions.
“We expect there to be a lot fewer layups against us next year because of what the new players can do defensively,” Kings Head Coach Paul Westphal said with a grin during yesterday’s press conference. “We expect to be a better rebounding team and we have more options for throwing the ball into the low-post and getting offensive rebounds.”
Questions about Cousins’ attitude affected the young big man’s draft stock. But there’s no doubt in the former Kentucky center’s mind where he ranks among this year’s top prospects.
“I’ve had a chance to play everyone and I believe I’m the best player,” Cousins said without hesitation.
With the opportunity to add a potentially great center to a core featuring a rising star at guard, Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie made sure to do his homework.
“We spent a lot of time talking to people who have been involved with him throughout his development as a young player” Petrie said of researching Cousins.
“(We heard from) people that have no real particular axe to grind at this point or gain from what they say or don’t say,” Petrie continued. “I think the message that came back was very consistent about him as a player and his development. And it was nothing that was any real concern to us as far as drafting him.”
With perhaps the right pieces in place, it might be time for Kings fans to dust off those old cowbells sooner rather than later.
Jonathan Santiago is a freelance writer. Find more of Jonathan’s work by visiting his website.