One of the most divisive prospects in the NBA draft last season, DeMarcus Cousins has had a very rocky start to his NBA career. Playing on one of the worst teams in the league, the #5 pick has undergone a drastic change in environment coming from a Kentucky Wildcats team that was ranked #1 in the nation for a good portion of last season. While Cousins has at times looked outstanding, his game-to-game production and efficiency are massively inconsistent, he's had multiple publicized problems with his coaching staff, and he's one of the most foul-prone big men in the league. Still, it's what he's been doing on the court that is most interesting.
Part One: Offensive Role
“#1 in PER (actually ranking #1 in the last 8 years in that category), Points per-40 minutes pace adjusted, rebounds per-40p, field goals made and second in free throw attempts, Cousins has answered his many critics by going out and producing in unbelievable fashion.
A man amongst boys at the college level, Cousins' combination of size, length and strength is simply unparalleled at this level of competition. There are only a handful of players that can even match up with him from a physical standpoint, and outside of a couple of ho-hum performances against the strongest big men he's faced (UConn and North Carolina), he's completely destroyed the slew of largely mediocre post players he's been forced to deal with.
Watching him on film, it's not difficult to see why. Cousins can establish position deep in the post pretty much whenever he wants at the college level with his strong frame, huge and extremely soft hands, and incredible wingspan-- making him the perfect target to lob the ball inside the paint to. He's the type of guy who wants the ball in his hands and shows a real hunger to score as much as possible, which is a big part of the reason why he's currently ranked as the #1 per-minute scorer in college basketball.”
-NCAA Weekly Performers, January 29, 2010
To say Cousins has undergone a dramatic role change in the NBA would be somewhat of an understatement. At the college level, Cousins was a dominant player in a variety of ways, utilizing his massive size, strength, and length to punish the opposition on the glass and finishing around the basket, the primary reason why he was able to be so productive. In the NBA, he's reverted to many of the habits he showed in high school, trying to be more of a finesse player than a dominating post presence.
Looking at Synergy Sports Technology's quantified statistics paints an accurate picture of the story. At the college level, Cousins took just 24 jump shots on the entire season, whereas in the NBA he's already taken 156. As a percentage of all his field goal attempts, Cousins is shooting jumpers four times more frequently in the pros, and it's coming at the expense of post-up moves and shots around the basket. This is problematic not only because shots around the basket are usually much more efficient than mid-range jumpers for all players, but also because Cousins is an extremely poor jump shooter at this stage, scoring an abysmal 0.724 points per shot according to Synergy.
While Cousins' drastic change in shot selection is incredibly harmful to his efficiency, with his eFG% dropping from 56% to 44% this year (the NBA league average is 49.7%), it's equally if not more harmful to other areas of his game. Playing more of a finesse game, moving away from the basket, and taking his man off the dribble more often, Cousins' pace adjusted turnovers per 40 minutes are up from 3.3 to 4.0, and his free-throw attempts and offensive rebounds are nearly cut in half. All things said, Cousins has gone from a player who dominated in a handful of areas at the collegiate level to a player who struggles to be above average at anything in the pros.
Part Two: Interior Offense
“Once he gets the ball where he wants it, Cousins is more than skilled enough to know what to do with it, showing quick feet, terrific footwork, excellent body control and fantastic touch to finish off plays. Often-times you'll see him creating his own shot by spinning off his man abruptly in impressive fashion, and then just using his terrific length to convert easily at the basket. Although he isn't the most explosive guy you'll find in terms of his ability to play above the rim, this aspect of his game can probably be improved as well (although only to a degree) by shedding the 10-15 pounds of baby fat he's still sporting.”
-NCAA Weekly Performers, January 29, 2010
Cousins' skill level operating with his back to the basket is still as impressive as ever. He boasts extremely high levels of coordination, mobility, and footwork, a dangerous combination when paired with his physical attributes. His spin moves and dropsteps are more than strong enough to get separation against most NBA defenders, and he's capable of consistently getting off both finesse and power moves when he wants to.
Somewhat expected given his below average explosiveness, Cousins' post scoring efficiency has dropped some in the pros, with his points per shot on post-ups going from 1.06 to 0.85 according to Synergy. While some of the drop was inevitable due to the tougher defense at this level, part of it is his own doing, as Cousins has relied much more on finesse than power moves thus far.
Fighting less actively for post position, and playing with an inferior point guard this season, Cousins is often content to catch the ball in the mid-to-high post rather than backing his man down deep on the block either before or after he gets the ball. His size and strength are almost unmatchable even at this level, and when he's putting in the effort he shows the ability to pin the opposition at will and establish dominant position frequently. Unfortunately too often he simply goes through the motions, settling for a fade-away turnaround jumper rather than attempting a power drop-step move.
Cousins' free throw rate (FTA per FGA) has declined massively from 0.73 to 0.36 this season, and favoring more of a finesse post game is as big a reason as any. While Cousins' finesse repertoire is impressive, and he's capable of scoring on some high difficulty shots, he's much better with his power game, which made him one of the best players in the NCAA last season.
In terms of finishing off the ball around the basket, Cousins has been slightly less utilized on cuts and slightly less productive on the offensive glass, though this is still where the majority of his offense comes. His lack of explosiveness hurts him severely here, but he's still an average finisher in this regard, and his ability to outmuscle anyone in the league to get to the rim allows him to get more attempts in this regard than most other players in the league. Still, he's nowhere near as dominant here as he was in college, and it has as much to do with the higher level of defense as it does with his less efficient style of play.
Part Three: Perimeter Offense
“More than just a brute force in the lane, Cousins sports some intriguing perimeter skills as well, showing better ball-handling skills and jump-shooting ability than you would typically expect from a player his size. The problem is that he tends to over-do this aspect of his game from time to time, forcing up bad shots and making a couple of questionable decisions pretty much every game. To his credit, he's gotten much better about this as his freshman season moves along.”
-NCAA Weekly Performers, January 29, 2010
Going from taking less than one jumper per game at the collegiate level to over three per game in the pros according to Synergy, Cousins has clearly put more of an emphasis on his perimeter game in the pros, though the returns haven't been good. Cousins shows little conscience putting up shots, taking nearly as many guarded as unguarded jumpers on the perimeter, and frequently will throw up a contested 20 footer with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock for no reason at all.
Cousins isn't a bad shooter in terms of pure ability, as he's boasting a respectable 67% from the free-throw line, but his discipline and decision-making in shot selection are just downright awful, especially given the other strengths of his offensive game. The fact that almost all of his shots come from a few feet inside the three-point line doesn't help matters, with those being the least efficient shots in basketball before you factor in his own unique issues.
In terms of face-up offense, Cousins has some very intriguing skills operating out of the pinch post, boasting a solid first step, incredibly long strides with the ball, decent control on his handle, and an array of impressive spin moves in his arsenal. The problem, though, is Cousins tends to over-rely on this area of his game, and it leads to a lot of turnovers. His tendency to settle for fade-away turnaround jumpers rather than going all the way to the basket doesn't help matters much either.
While Cousins has the tools to be respectable both as a spot-up jump shooter and face-up driver, he's doing himself and his team a massive disservice by making these things the centerpiece of his offensive game rather than spending more time around the basket. The drastic decline in his offensive efficiency is due more to this than anything else.
Part Four: Defense and Rebounding
“Defensively, Cousins is mostly a mixed bag at this point. On one hand he provides an incredible presence in the post with his terrific size, length and bulk, often not needing to do much more than just stand in the paint with his arms outstretched in order to help his team come up with a stop. He's pretty physical on top of that and appears to be putting in a solid effort in for the most part, making it extremely difficult for opposing big men to get shots off over the top of him, and coming up with a solid 3.4 blocks per-40 minutes pace adjusted in turn.
On the other hand, Cousins is not the most fundamentally sound player you'll find, which combined with his below average lateral quickness causes him to get exposed from time to time when being attacked off the dribble by quicker players he's forced to switch onto. He looks a bit lazy and/or not focused getting back on defense sometimes, something that caused him and Kentucky coach John Calipari to butt heads over on occasion early on in the season.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Cousins has actually been more impressive defensively than offensively thus far in the pros.
While Cousins' fundamentals are still pretty raw in all areas, his coordination, mobility, size, and length make him a pretty unique player at his position, and it's showed up in a variety of ways. Defending the pick-and-roll, for example, despite showing just average levels of activity and focus, Cousins is very impressive in shutting down passing lanes, hedging screens, and contesting jumpers, as he just moves so effortlessly and covers so much ground with his size and wingspan.
In the post, Cousins does a pretty good job defending against power moves despite showing little understanding of leverage and fundamentals, with his brute strength and outstretched arms being good enough to deter most players. He doesn't move his feet especially well laterally, making him prone to being beat by quick spin moves, while he's also vulnerable against the rare center who can take him off the dribble.
In terms of general awareness, rotations, and closing out on shooters, Cousins does an adequate job, giving up on plays and just going through the motions at times, but for the most part at least holding his own in this regard. His lack of explosiveness hurts his ability to block shots from the weak side, however, with him blocking just 0.8 per game despite his size and wingspan.
The biggest problem Cousins is having defensively is in the personal fouls department, as he's averaging 4.0 per game in just 26.5 minutes. Despite his low minutes, his 4.0 per game ranks tops in the entire league, and adjusting to making less careless fouls is something he definitely will need to do in the future.
On the glass, Cousins has gone from an unbelievably dominant college rebounder to a slightly above average rebounder in the pros, with his rebounds per 40 pace adjusted dropping from 15.9 to 11.3, something that rarely happens with rebounding even when accounting for the change in competition level. Like the rest of his game, this is mostly evidence of Cousins playing much softer in the pros and not putting in the effort consistently, as he's capable of ranking amongst the top of the league if he wants to, rather than his meager current ranking of 33rd.
Part Five: Maturity
“While Cousins is without a doubt a precocious talent with the type of physical tools and scoring instincts that you rarely see at the college level, there are many question marks revolving around whether he has the intangibles needed to reach his extremely high potential. His body language and overall temperament on the floor is often very poor, looking somewhat lazy and disinterested and at times downright selfish. He's clearly not the smartest guy you'll find on or off the court, and he already tends to react very poorly to different situations on the floor and lose his temper in concerning fashion.
A few articles have already been written about his extremely unpredictable nature and whether that might come back to haunt Kentucky at some point in a big game, and these same concerns may give NBA executives room for pause when thinking about drafting him extremely high in the lottery and making him the face of their franchise.”
Cousins' maturity issues are certainly not yet behind him, as there have been multiple publicized reports of him quarreling with coaches this season, much more so than was reported at Kentucky. His body language on the floor is frequently poor and the softening of his offensive game combined with his decreased effort with physicality and attacking the glass are more evidence of the problems many suspected.
Cousins' game-to-game performance is also extremely erratic. It's common for him to score in the high 20's one game followed by the low single digits the next, as it's completely unexpected what you'll get from him on a nightly basis.
Sacramento's somewhat weak coaching staff and overall organizational structure, combined with the poor talent level on the team certainly don't help matters. Going from one of the top programs in college basketball to one of the worst teams in the NBA has to be discouraging for a player, but ultimately this is on Cousins' shoulders more than anyone. He hasn't had any major off-the-court issues in a while now, but his unpredictable nature and overall reputation means these things will always be somewhat of a concern.
Looking forward, Cousins remains one of the most enigmatic prospects in basketball even now that he's in the NBA. On one hand, he has extremely strong physical attributes and is capable of being one of the most uniquely dominant centers in the NBA, something that does show up every few games. On the other, he's basically done everything every doubter from the draft process expected him to do, and he has been one of the most inefficient, turnover prone players on one of the worst teams in the league.
There's still plenty of time for Cousins to turn things around at just 20 years old, and while it may be unfair to put such high expectations on a player this young, it's somewhat deserving given where he was taken in the draft combined with how productive a player he was at the collegiate level.
Unlike many prospects who fail transitioning to the NBA, Cousins' issues aren't due to his skills not translating, but more so of him abandoning everything that made him a great prospect and collegiate player in order to try being a completely different type of player.
While Cousins may significantly improve his perimeter and finesse offensive games in his time in the NBA, it's unlikely he'd be as successful as if he went back to what made him a great prospect in the first place. Fortunately, he still has plenty of time to do so.
It's possible that with added maturity and an organization and coaching staff more competent of getting him to play to his potential, the light bulb will eventually come on for Cousins. [Read Full Article] Situational Statistics: This Year’s Center Crop June 16, 2010 DeMarcus Cousins does not look incredibly impressive on first glance from a situational perspective, but has some extremely interesting attributes about him and fares pretty well against his peers in the top-ten. His ranks are skewed by lower usage players from smaller conferences in the lower part of our rankings.
Cousins ranks well above average in terms of usage at 14.3 possessions per-game, despite playing only 23 minutes per game, and his 0.99 PPP ranks him right around the average for his position. Cousins does stand out in how small of a proportion of his possessions he turned the ball over (13.4%) and how frequently he drew free throws (22.9%, 3rd). Clearly, his ability to use his body allowed him to clear out space and create contact underneath. He also runs the floor extremely well, getting out in transition (10.8% of his possessions) more than any other center except for Mac Koshwal.
In post up situations, Cousins ranked right around average with his 49.6% shooting, but he ranked third in drawing fouls, doing so on an impressive 26% of his back to the basket opportunities. Though Cousins proved capable of creating his own shot, he was at his best when crashing the glass. He created 3.2 possessions per-game for himself rebounding his teammates’ missed shots.
One area that Cousins’ does not stand out in is as a finisher. His 1.165 points per-shot rank third last on our list, hinting at the average explosiveness he possesses around the basket.
To his credit, he ranks near the bottom in the amount of pick and roll plays he was put in, an area of his game which should become his bread and butter in the NBA thanks to his terrific length, girth, hands and touch. Although he only took .6 jump-shots per game according to Synergy, Cousins shot a solid 1.083 PPP on them (3rd after Solomon Alabi and Tibor Pleiss), which hints at good things to come in this area in the future. On another team he probably would have gotten a lot more than just 5 possessions per game in the post, especially considering that he draws a foul on over 1/4th of those possessions.
It will be interesting to see how a different system allows Cousins to utilize his tools down low next season. Despite his terrific per-minute productivity, Cousins is still only 19 years old and has plenty of room to continue to grow as a prospect, especially if he’s willing to put the work in. [Read Full Article] Analyzing the NBA Combine Measurements May 22, 2010 DeMarcus Cousins' measurements are phenomenal. He stands 6-9 ˝ without shoes, with a gigantic 7-5 ľ wingspan and a standing reach of 9-5. He's a physical specimen at the center position, with measurements similar to that of Brook Lopez (just much bulkier), and superior to those of Dwight Howard (who was 18 at the time he was measured and could have very well grown since), Greg Oden and Al Jefferson.
The only concern is his high body fat percentage of 16.3%, which ranks as the 12th-highest figure of any player in our database. By comparison, Mike Sweetney came in at 14.1% and Shaquille O'Neal 12.2%. What's alarming here is that Cousins is considered to be in the best shape of his life at the moment. Both he and his agent are making a big deal of the fact that he's been eating as healthy (“seafood and salad diet”) and working out as intensely as he ever has. NBA teams are worried about Cousins resting on his laurels once he's been drafted and signs a contract. This measurement won't ease any of those concerns.
See how Cousins compares with other Centers drafted in the top 15 in our measurements database. [Read Full Article] NBA Combine Interviews: DeMarcus Cousins, Evan Turner, Wes Johnson May 22, 2010 Part One:
You’d be hard pressed to find a freshman who has dominated his opponents from a statistical standpoint the way DeMarcus Cousins has for Kentucky so far this season.
#1 in PER (actually ranking #1 in the last 8 years in that category), Points per-40 minutes pace adjusted, rebounds per-40p, field goals made and second in free throw attempts, Cousins has answered his many critics by going out and producing in unbelievable fashion.
A man amongst boys at the college level, Cousins’ combination of size, length and strength is simply unparalleled at this level of competition. There are only a handful of players that can even match up with him from a physical standpoint, and outside of a couple of ho-hum performances against the strongest big men he’s faced (UConn and North Carolina), he’s completely destroyed the slew of largely mediocre post players he’s been forced to deal with.
Watching him on film, it’s not difficult to see why. Cousins can establish position deep in the post pretty much whenever he wants at the college level with his huge frame, huge and extremely soft hands, and incredible wingspan-- making him the perfect target to lob the ball inside the paint to. He’s the type of guy who wants the ball in his hands and shows a real hunger to score as much as possible, which is a big part of the reason why he’s currently ranked as the #1 per-minute scorer in college basketball.
Once he gets the ball where he wants it, Cousins is more than skilled enough to know what to do with it, showing quick feet, terrific footwork, excellent body control and fantastic touch to finish off plays. Often-times you’ll see him creating his own shot by spinning off his man abruptly in impressive fashion, and then just using his terrific length to convert easily at the basket. Although he isn’t the most explosive guy you’ll find in terms of his ability to play above the rim, this aspect of his game can probably be improved as well (although only to a degree) by shedding the 10-15 pounds of baby fat he’s still sporting.
More than just a brute force in the lane, Cousins sports some intriguing perimeter skills as well, showing better ball-handling skills and jump-shooting ability than you would typically expect from a player his size. The problem is that he tends to over-do this aspect of his game from time to time, forcing up bad shots and making a couple of questionable decisions pretty much every game. To his credit, he’s gotten much better about this as his freshman season moves along.
Cousins’ free throw shooting is another area he’s made strides in as the season moves on, as he seems to be showing better focus here than he did earlier in the year. He gets to the charity stripe at a simply outrageous rate of 12-times per-40 minutes pace adjusted, and converts 66% of his attempts once there.
Somewhat of a black hole once he receives the ball inside the paint, Cousins is not what you would call a willing passer, even if he is capable of finding the open man. He’s at his best right now acting as a finisher off cuts to the rim, offensive rebounds and transition opportunities, where he’s nearly automatic around the basket.
Defensively, Cousins is mostly a mixed bag at this point. On one hand he provides an incredible presence in the post with his terrific size, length and bulk, often not needing to do much more than just stand in the paint with his arms outstretched in order to help his team come up with a stop. He’s pretty physical on top of that and appears to be putting in a solid effort in for the most part, making it extremely difficult for opposing big men to get shots off over the top of him, and coming up with a solid 3.4 blocks per-40 minutes pace adjusted in turn.
On the other hand, Cousins is not the most fundamentally sound player you’ll find, which combined with his below average lateral quickness causes him to get exposed from time to time when being attacked off the dribble by quicker players he’s forced to switch onto. He looks a bit lazy and/or not focused getting back on defense sometimes, something that caused him and Kentucky coach John Calipari to butt heads over on occasion early on in the season.
Whichever franchise drafts him will likely need to live with his limitations on this end of the floor and commit to being more of a half-court oriented team, as it’s unlikely that Cousins will get much lighter on his feet over the next few years.
While Cousins is without a doubt a precocious talent with the type of physical tools and scoring instincts that you rarely see at the college level, there are many question marks revolving around whether he has the intangibles needed to reach his extremely high potential. His body language and overall temperament on the floor is often very poor, looking somewhat lazy and disinterested and at times downright selfish. He’s clearly not the smartest guy you’ll find on or off the court, and he already tends to react very poorly to different situations on the floor and lose his temper in concerning fashion.
A few articles have already been written about his extremely unpredictable nature and whether that might come back to haunt Kentucky at some point in a big game, and these same concerns may give NBA executives room for pause when thinking about drafting him extremely high in the lottery and making him the face of their franchise.
Simply put, is he the type of player who can help a team win games, or will his attitude on and off the court end up being a detriment to his career? These are the things that will be keeping NBA GMs up at night through the months of May and June, and will surely require an incredibly thorough examination into every detail of his personality and background. Still, it’s nearly impossible to find players who are as talented as him, which is why he’s unlikely to last very long in the Green Room when it’s all said and done. [Read Full Article] Nike Hoop Summit, High School Prospects April 16, 2009 Cousins really struggled in this game, despite the number of impressive tools he displayed during the week. There is a lot to like about his game, but a different approach would go a long way for him as a prospect.
Offensively, Cousins shows a great feel for the game, and assisted cutting guards multiple times in the game from the high post. In addition, he shoots the ball effectively to 20 feet, and can even face the basket and drive to the hoop a little bit as well. On the other hand, he needs to become a tougher player in the low post. The talented big tends to play below the rim and miss easy baskets inside, lacking the touch and toughness necessary to really take full advantage of his size inside.
Physically, he has a massive frame with good strength, and above average agility as well. He may be a bit on the heavy side as well, but nothing a little time in the weight room can't solve. Like Sidney, he needs to focus on becoming a tougher and more serious player. With his tools, he could become a very good player both in college and at the NBA level, but a greater degree of focus is needed from him. As one scout put it "with a lot of the bigs in this class, you are reminded of Eddy Curry one too many times." [Read Full Article] Player Evaluations, McDonald’s All-American Game (East Team) April 4, 2009
Jim Hlavac, DraftExpress
DeMarcus Cousins (#6 Scout, #2 Rivals, #4 ESPN¬) had an up and down week of practices followed by an average showing in the actual game on Wednesday, showing his many strengths and weaknesses as a prospect. Regardless of how he looks on any given night, he’s a tremendous presence on both ends of the court due to his outstanding size and freakish length. His wingspan allows him to finish around the basket with the greatest of ease, which is good considering that he’s not much of a leaper due to his average explosiveness and conditioning-level.
Offensively, Cousins can do many different things, including hit 3-pointers, put the ball on the deck and create shots for himself on his own, which is a very unique thing considering his size. He tends to fall in love with his perimeter skills, though, not really showing the basketball IQ needed to take advantage of his many gifts, although that’s something he’ll surely be able to figure out down the road. Defensively he offered very little this week, looking mostly disinterested in putting an effort in. He’ll need to get himself into much better shape if he wants to see big minutes in a system like John Calipari’s, but that’s exactly what these guys go to school for.
[Read Full Article] HoopHall Classic Scouting Reports, Part Three January 23, 2009 After an excellent showing on national TV just a few days prior to this event, DeMarcus Cousins (#6 Scout, #2 Rivals, #4 ESPN) reverted back to showing the questionable reputation he's developed over the past few years with the obvious red flags he shows on the court.
The potential, as always, is incredibly obvious. With a massive frame, long arms, great size and terrific fluidity and mobility considering his build, Cousins has not only the physical attributes of an NBA big man, but also many of the skills. He has great touch both facing and with his back to the basket, hitting a number of outside shots as well as some excellent hook shots and turnaround jumpers in the lane. He can also create his own shot beautifully from the high post, putting the ball on the floor nicely, and pivoting and spinning into a gorgeous finger roll. Few big men at the college level, let alone high school, can create their own shot with such ease both inside and outside the paint, which is what makes him so unique.
The problem is that everything else he does on the court makes him stand out just as much, and not in a positive way. Cousins was matched up with a very tough and physical defender in Maryland bound James Padgett, and he looked extremely frustrated with the contact he was forced to take around the basket. Padgett bodied him up all game long and really got underneath Cousins' skin, causing him to get extremely distracted. His questionable conditioning came into play already in the first quarter, as he began sucking wind very early on, and he became completely exhausted in the fourth quarter, walking around with his hands on his hips. He repeatedly settled for tough fade-away jumpers outside the paint, and much preferred to hang out on the perimeter rather than deal with the contact from Padgett inside.
Defensively, Cousins put little to no effort in, showing very poor fundamentals and obviously saving himself for his team's offensive possessions. He was always the last player getting back up the floor, sometimes just not making his way over at all, something that surprisingly happened both on the offensive and defensive end. He looked extremely lazy throughout the game, giving up the distinct impression that he just wasn't interested in playing.
Even though he's obviously a big talent, Cousins isn't that much of a sure-fire NBA lock to be mailing it in just yet. He's just an average athlete at best by NBA standards, showing underwhelming leaping ability and just-decent quickness getting up and down the floor. There have been plenty of similarly ranked high school big men (see James Lang, DeAngelo Collins, Jackie Butler, etc) who never panned out despite racking up huge accolades as prep players, so he's not yet reached the point that he can flip the light switch on and off whenever he pleases. Hopefully this is just a product of Cousins' youth, and he will mature in college (he's reportedly a lock for Memphis according to the word here) and fulfill his immense potential. [Read Full Article] Battle In Birmingham: DeMarcus Cousins vs Derrick Favors January 16, 2009 Cousins (#2 Rivals, #6 Scout, #4 ESPN) wasn't quite as dominant statistically as Favors, though he offered a vastly superior skill set during his performance. It was at times shocking to see a player of his stature move around the hardwood so gracefully while maintaining great body control and court presence. This game served as a reminder of how good Cousins can ultimately become if he exerts consistent effort and maximizes his talents.
The physical package is certainly there for DeMarcus, whether he opts to play power forward or center at the next level. Every bit of 6'10, he is already a massive 270 pounds and has a freakish wingspan that was measured at 7'6 at the 2008 LeBron James Skills Academy. Though carrying a bit of extra weight, he is surprisingly nimble and possesses solid quickness both laterally and off the dribble. Equally as impressive is his ability to get off of the ground, leaving some optimism as to how good of a leaper he could ultimately become if he toned his body. Cousins runs the floor well at times, but there are also instances when his sub-par conditioning and desire come into play, and he is one of the last players down the hardwood.
The Alabama native's offensive game is largely based around his ability to face the basket, which can be frustrating at times. He showed off a very smooth, effortless jumper from the perimeter against South Atlanta's 2-3 zone, drilling one 3-pointer and a number of 17-19 foot jumpers. He exhibited the ability to take Favors off of the dribble with his nifty perimeter skills, exhibited by a gorgeous drive to the rim that finished with a spin move and power dunk. There were a number of other drives to the rim and instances of the big man handling the ball in the open court that were awfully impressive, though it made one ponder if that is really what they want a player of his size doing on a consistent basis.
Even more impressive though was Cousins’ ability to pass the ball. Constantly keeping his head up, he was able to find the open man on a regular basis when faced with a double team. The stat sheet reflected this based on his 5 assists with one lone turnover, and the senior could have had a handful more assists had his teammates done a better job of finishing. This ability is going to translate immediately at the collegiate level due to the fact that at all of the programs recruiting him (with the exception of Wake Forest and Louisville), he will likely be the focal point of the post offense and will certainly be faced with multiple defenders consistently.
It is often times frustrating to see Cousins hang out on the perimeter as frequently as he does, when he could really be a massive force in the pivot if he desired to do so. Granted South Atlanta's compacted zone forced him out on the perimeter more often this game, but he is a player who still feels more comfortable doing his damage outside then in the paint. Even in the other times we observed, he opted to go to turnaround jumpers out of the post rather than power moves, which needs to change if he wants to become the dominant big man he has the potential to be.
There is a considerable amount of potential in Cousins as a defender, with the natural gifts and size he was blessed with. Showing very nice timing, he is able to block (and alter) a large number of shots with his big body and long arms. Likewise, Cousins is able to take up a ton of space around the rim with that body for rebounding, though he tends to rely on his size a bit much at times instead of fundamental boxing out. His rotations were very good last night, as seen by the two charges that he drew against South Atlanta players. How good of a defender Cousins wants to be is going to eventually come down to what sort of effort he chooses to exert on this end.
Cousins will have the opportunity to immediately come in and make a considerable impact at any of the schools that he has listed, given his combination of size, length, and offensive skills. His effort lapses and conditioning must improve if he hopes to reach his maximum draft potential, but he is certainly a player who will be closely followed by NBA scouts next season. As for where the big man will actually play next year, much still depends on whether or not UAB retains Mike Davis for 09-10. If they keep the former Indiana coach around for another campaign, it would be tough to see him landing anywhere else. However, without any assurance that Davis will be in Birmingham next season, this big man could very well take his services elsewhere—maybe even to Europe. [Read Full Article] LeBron James Skills Academy Final Day July 14, 2007 Cousins showed off the game of the skilled power forward that he is finally at the LeBron camp, seeming to finally get it through his head that he is much better suited on the blocks then he his hanging around the perimeter all day. The passing and ball handling skills that he showed off were unbelievable for a player standing 6’9 and nearly 250 lbs. He is a nightmare to guard on the offensive end, able to take slower defenders off of the dribble from the wing, but also able to kill you in post with his remarkably soft touch.
Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
Already owning an NBA body, Cousins made his presence felt on the defensive end with his outstanding timing and nice wingspan to block shots. He is smart and skilled, allowing him to stay out of foul trouble while still making his impact felt on both ends of the floor. UAB is rumored to be the slight leader for this big, as he has had a very long relationship with coach Mike Davis. He could very well be the piece to take UAB to the top of Conference USA, alongside Memphis. [Read Full Article]