Prospect Profiles: DeMarcus Cousins

05/14/2010 4:59 PM - 

Contributed by Mike Gallagher

All Kentucky basketball fans knew that April 7th would come. On that infamous day all of Kentucky’s star players fled Lexington like it was quarantined and Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman showed up. Although even an eternal optimist must have known guys like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins would be where the vapors are, it must have been discouraging know the Cats would need to completely reload. Cousins was one of the biggest and toughest low-post presences in the nation last year. He could be taken as high as two in the draft and certainly won’t be sliding past the fifth spot.

What we like:
Cousins isn’t just a big man, he’s a biggerest man (thanks Old Spice commercial). Cousins is listed at 6-foot-11 and makes the ground shake at 270 pounds. Cousins is the biggest top-prospect in this year’s class (edging out fellow Wildcat Daniel Orton). DC isn’t quite big enough to be in a comic book, but he is a legit five and will be a tough cover for any NBA big on the blocks.
Cousins is a very aggressive and effective rebounder. He has a good idea when to box out his man or take the initiative in going after the rebound. The ‘Bama born boy averaged 10 rebounds per game in his freshman year. He rebounded consistently and even grabbed double-digit boards in 11-of-12 games during January and February.
For such a big dude many would think he’d be an oaf-type player that would be in there to just be able finish from inside a 10-foot radius. Not the case, folks. Cousins has skills from 15-feet plus. Cousins has decent three-point range and took six attempts throughout the season (just made one). It goes without saying that three-point shooting isn’t his forte, but he has a nice mid-range game and made several shots from the wing position. Basically, don’t think Troy Murphy range, think Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph.
The man from Mobile is pretty mobile. He has quick feet and wasn’t abused by more athletic big men last year. Kentucky did a lot of transition scoring and DeMarcus was a trailer for Wall on several occasions.
56 percent shooting from the floor is very impressive for a player that didn’t do a whole not of damage from inside two feet. As mention earlier, Cousins showed he has a full array of shots. He has phenomenal footwork in the post and uses both hands well. On the other hand, he does have the size and strength to be a beast inside of five feet. Cousins used all of his attributes to get easy dunks.
Cousins isn’t an outstanding defender, but he has the tools to block a ton of shots. Those tools are his left and right arms. Cousins has a huge wingspan and it helped him earn 1.8 blocks per game. He got more while guarding his man as opposed to getting easy blocks while helping on the weak side.
Furthermore, DeMarcus had a surprising 1.0 steals per game. Cousins was aggressive in passing lanes and did strip the ball like DeMarcus Ware at times. Those steals probably won’t translate to the pros, but nevertheless, an eye-catching stat for a guy that spent most of his time in the paint.
Surprisingly, Cousins wasn’t hacking all that much. He only fouled out in two games in out of the 38 games played last season. Those two games were both in November, so the disciple he exhibited is certainly admirable. Hasheem Thabeet, the best big man in last year’s draft class, is the polar opposite and hacks everything with two hands and a ball. That aforementioned disciple should translate to the next level and would help raise the ceiling for Cousins since he will avoid the bench with foul trouble.

What we don’t like:
Cousins didn’t get a heavy load as a freshman and only played 23.5 minutes. That lack of playing time will raise the conditioning flag rather quickly. Cousins broke the 30-minute just six times during the season and failed to play 20 minutes 11 times. In his defense though, all 11 of those came before February. If he knows what’s good for him, he should be doing a whole lot of cardio and endurance training this summer.
Cousins isn’t a freakish athlete like the other top prospects in this year’s class. He isn’t too explosive on the floor and doesn’t have posterizing ability like guys like Derrick Favors. He does weigh 270, so he gets a pass to a certain extent.
The 6’11” beast does have some character issues. His ability to give it 100 percent at all times has come into question. There have been instances where he has taken off on some plays on defense and won’t hustle back on D. It could be tied to the conditioning issues, but either way it is something that needs to be rectified.
Like most big men, Cousins does have some free throw shooting woes. He finished up last season with just 60 percent made from the charity stripe. Not horrible, but not a strength by any stretch of the imagination. If given the opportunity, he will need to work on that for a player that could be shooting as many as eight free throws per game at the next level.

Fantasy prospects:
Cousins logged six straight double-doubles for Coach Cal and the Wildcats and he has that type of capability in the league. Cousins has the skills to be a dub-dub machine and will provide in other areas. He will be defending bigger guys than college kids, so that 1.8 block average seems unattainable in a 25 MPG allotment.
Cousins is still very raw compared to other big men, so he will need to be headed to an advantageous destination. Which ones are advantageous? The Warriors seem like the best fit for a big man as guys like Ronny Turiaf and Anthony Randolph do not appear to be the answer, and of course Andris Biedrins spends more time in street clothes than a uniform on game nights. The Pistons would be a good fit as they lack a lot of front court depth and counted on guys like Jason Maxiell down the stretch.
It’s going to take a few breaks for Cousins to be relevant this year, so standard redraft leagues shouldn’t consider drafting him without an impressive camp and/or preseason. He has tons of upside, so long-term keeper leagues might want to pounce on him in the 80-100 pick range.

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