After the announcement that the Houston Rockets and DeMarcus Cousins were on the brink of collapse, rumors around the NBA increased in an attempt to determine where the big man might go next. Although Cousins’ name currently makes more headlines than his field production, the former All-NBA star is still more than capable of contributing to the rotation.
In 25 games this season, DeMarcus Cousins is averaging over nine points per game and seven rebounds in just 20 minutes of play. While his 34 percent goal-line deficit isn’t much appreciated, the center remains a viable option for teams that want two big players on the field at once.
Even if he doesn’t jump the line to create space for a teammate to work inside, Cousins still has enough elbow room to make someone stand in a dungeon and wait for what DeMarcus Cousins puts in front of him.
However, it was the play of the center on the defensive side of the ball that could make the difference. Not only does he use his size and strength to play smaller, stronger players and change their angles to take an extra half-second to reach the basket, giving the assistants behind him time to turn, but he also finishes with surprising speed for someone who has suffered both a torn Achilles tendon and a torn anterior cruciate ligament. DeMarcus Cousins, however, limited his opponents to 0.9 points per possession on throws and an astounding 0.7 points per possession on jump spots, ranking him 92nd (!!!) on the Synergy Sports rankings.
Even if you cry out for a small sample size, these numbers happen, and frankly, there’s still enough evidence to justify the minutes when DeMarcus Cousins is working as the one big man.
The question is not so much if the cousins will find another home, but where. To answer this question, here are DeMarcus Cousins’ three main targets.
Target of DeMarcus’ cousins:
3. Toronto Raptors
With the loss of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka in the offseason, the Raptors not only lost the Steelers’ inside players, but also the team’s two main secondary playmakers. While Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet topped the usage rankings and Ibaka and Gasol ranked fifth and seventh, according to Glass Cleaning, their ability to pass near the top of the key were the two main reasons Toronto’s depth was so effective.
After the two men decided to trade their collars for a warmer climate in Los Angeles, the Raptors tried to get by without two reinforcements in Chris Boucher and Aron Baines.
While Boucher put in an admirable performance – even if his PER figures are grossly inflated – Baines was a sieve on defense, but couldn’t match his performance from last season in Phoenix on offense. Not only is his three-point percentage down to 21 percent, but the big man passes the ball nearly 15 percent of the time, playing no more than 20 minutes per game.
As Toronto continues to plan for the playoffs, an upgrade at the center position is essential. Enter DeMarcus’ Cousins section.
Not only would Cousins provide a decent facsimile of the play of Gasol and Ibaka, but the big man would be an option capable of swinging on the floor while collecting rebounds. Because the Raptors had to play with a smaller team due to Baines’ problems, the team slipped to 26th in terms of bounce rate, a potential game-breaker for the postseason. He may not be able to lead them to a championship, but DeMarcus Cousins answers a lot of questions for the Toronto Predators.
2. Miami Heat
If the presence of Bam Adebayo is a thermal anchor point inside, the team still needs a second option on the stairs. Kelly Olink has performed satisfactorily for most of the year, but you have to wonder if the Heat are confident that the striker will play 26 minutes per game for the rest of the season, given his habit of being inconsistent. With the team down to 13-17 after Saturday night’s win over the Lakers, the urgency of the upgrade has never been greater.
Acquiring Cousins not only gives the Heat confidence in case Olynk starts to perform again, and as any Heat fan can tell you, he will definitely perform again at some point, but he’s also a defender who can compete with the best on the boards. While Miami would probably rather find a striker on the market to fit into its lineup alongside Adebayo, the Chaleurs have gone so deep that they don’t have time to delve into the intricacies of the trade.
They desperately need a player who can put them on the glass without injuring them on the offensive side of the ball – where they average 107 weak points per game. If this player can also improve his shooting from beyond the arc, the team will be much better off.
DeMarcus’ cousins may have found this man in the heat.
1. Brooklyn Nets
With all the talent the Nets possess, it’s not hard to see their weaknesses. After losing Jarrett Allen due to the acquisition of James Harden, the Nets are counting on DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green to fill the inside. While both men have performed better than expected so far – especially Jordan, who is always considered a more performance-oriented defender – the two big men have enough limitations to make the Brooklyn coaching staff adjust. Imagine how DeMarcus’ cousins would fit into this.
While the Nets once felt comfortable putting Allen in, the team is aware of Jordan’s limitations against faster players and is finding it increasingly difficult to bounce back from elimination. While the struggle to avoid inconsistencies as much as possible is part of the reason the team has gotten better defensively lately, the effort required to maintain this level of success could be exhausting in the long run.
By adding Cousins to the list, a team in need of quality bench players can become a potential connection within those minutes if the Nets decide to change it up. As the secondary selection figures show, the Big One is an adequate defensive option for smaller goalies and would be an improvement over Jordan in this series. Although he regresses on defense as the season progresses, Cousins shows enough mobility to ensure that the Nets can be confident that he won’t fall to the ground.
You can’t deny that Brooklyn has talent that can compete for a championship. What they lack is a center to support them in the next few games of the postseason. Fortunately for the Nets, he just got out.
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