Addition of 3-point shot to arsenal of Kings' All-Star could cause nightmares for opposing defenders
POSTED: Oct 31, 2015 1:51 PM ET
Cousins Hitting from Deep
DeMarcus Cousins knocks down a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The pursuit of the three-point crown took a night off Friday as DeMarcus Cousins went back to being plain DeMarcus Cousins, just your basic 25-year-old All-Star thumping his way to 21 points and 11 rebounds when he could have inflicted a lot more damage on the visiting Lakers if there had been enough of a game to require more than 28 minutes of court time.
The Kings, of course, are fine with both, with a standout Cousins performance for the second game in a row to open the season and the easy 132-114 win at Sleep Train Arena that allowed coach George Karl to mostly rest his starters heading into the second night of a back-to-back against the Clippers on the road. Not only that, it's heading into a brutal stretch when the next six games are against the Clips, Grizzlies, Suns (to finish a back-to-back), Rockets, Warriors (back-to-back) and Spurs. A light breeze of an outing was very welcome.
Something could be happening with Cousins, though, just in case he wasn't an interesting enough watch before. The gifted inside presence always had the ability to impact from beyond the post, with an unselfish mindset and the ability to deliver passes most bigs couldn't execute, only the update was that he worked a lot in the summer on adding range to his shot. A lot of range.
He became more comfortable from behind the arc. Karl gave him the freedom to take the new look out for a test drive. Cousins tried it out right away, taking five 3s in the opener against the Clippers on Wednesday. And making four.
DeMarcus Cousins records a double-double with 32 points and 13 rebounds in the Kings' tough loss to the Clippers.
"It's more just building confidence behind it," Cousins said. "I felt like it would help the team, spreading the floor a little bit more, so I tried to add it to my game this season."
The most he made any previous season was four, in 2012-13. He had three another time, two in two different campaigns and also a zero. In the three seasons of at least 10 attempts, Cousins never made more than 18.2 percent, and now here he is at 4-for-7 in 2015-16 even after ditching the Stephen Curry routine Friday by launching just twice from behind the arc and missing both.
While obviously a very, very small sample size, this could become a thing. Cousins is that talented with the ball and that young to where it is easy to imagine his game growing in different shapes. For all the ways his personality has held him -- and the Kings -- back through what is now a sixth season, there can be no doubt about his desire to win and get better. He will put in work to improve.
He's a load down low and if he's knocking down shots from 3-point range it just makes him that much more dangerous.
– Lakers coach Byron Scott
The flip side is just as obvious: The more times Cousins is standing 23 feet from the basket, the more opponents. If one of the best scorers in the game wants to attempt shots with a lower percentage and take one of the best rebounders in the game out of rebounding position, 29 other teams will make sure he gets a police escort to the arc, at least he makes enough 3s over enough months to become a credible threat.
"He's a load down low and if he's knocking down shots from 3-point range it just makes him that much more dangerous," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "I think most teams would invite him to take that shot on a night-to-night basis and I think the Clippers, the last game, he did it five times and made four of them. If he's knocking those down and he's in the post, he has the type of games that he had last game against the Clippers. We're still going to invite him to shoot the shot with a hand in his face."
Karl said he is "looking for 40 percent" from Cousins. Consider that unrealistic until further notice -- only 14 players had that much success last season, mostly guards and some small forwards. No 6-foot-11, 270 pounders who last season took 67 percent of their shots from within 10 feet of the basket, and with the kind of results players do not want to reduce.
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But if Cousins proves to defenses he deserves attention out there, it spreads the offense in ways that will create potential new scoring routes for other Kings. And, with his ability to put the ball on the floor, forcing his man to check him 20-something feet from the basket potentially allows Boogie to dribble around and find a different opening.
"I think there's going to be good games and bad games and I think there's going to be nights we're going to say he shot too many and there's going to be other nights where he probably should have shot some more," Karl said. "It's a learned experience. It's not something that comes to a guy that for the vast majority of his life has been basically underneath the basket and now being asked to play a little more out front."
At the very least, the developing look, depending how common it becomes, has interesting possibilities. Maybe it becomes a real layer in an ever-expanding arsenal. Maybe it's just an occasional wrinkle, something more than a gimmick but less than a serious threat and the Kings have to be satisfied with the guy who rolls up big numbers on opponents in the traditional ways, just plain DeMarcus Cousins.
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