Season Goals: DeMarcus Cousins’ Temper and Defensive Versatility

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 08: DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 08: DeMarcus Cousins (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

This article is the second in a series about every Pelicans’ most important goal for the 2017-2018 season. To read the first article, about Anthony Davis click here.

At this point in his career, DeMarcus Cousins’ reputation has been one of personal success, team drama, and aggressive on-court play. He has been top ten in both personal fouls and technical fouls every year since his rookie season and is considered to be one of the most hot-headed players in the NBA.

Despite intensity often being a virtue with players like Draymond Green, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, prided for their ferocity, at this point in his career, it has been more destructive than advantageous for Cousins.

Cousins’ red-hot persona is not something that he leaves on the court either, as it has caused him to not just develop negative relationships with opposing players, but with his teammates, as well.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Boogie once threatened to fight former Kings teammate, Nik Stauskas on a plane, and according to Philadelphia 76ers’ insider Michael K-B, the Kings eventually traded Stauskas to the Sixers in order to satisfy Cousins.

Some are pointing fingers at the chaotic nature of the Sacramento Kings franchise, thanks to the two Vs, Vlade, and Vivek, as Cousins collected just one technical foul for the Pelicans. However, whether it is environmental or not, it is integral that the Pelicans learn from the Kings’ organizational mistakes and keep Cousins happy if they want any chance at re-signing him in 2018 free agency.

It is vastly important that Cousins develops positive relationships with teammates, and reduces foul trouble if he ever wants to reach the playoffs.

Cousins’ second goal for the Pelicans relates to his defensive versatility. Although last year Cousins was not a bad defensive player, with .64 DRPM. This year, Cousins should be working on extending his defensive ability past the restricted area.

This is necessary due to the Pelicans lack of depth, and reliance on Boogie and Anthony Davis. According to Head Coach Alvin Gentry, Cousins and Davis will be playing against many small-ball lineups, despite the fact that they are a more traditional power forward-center combo.

Although this strategy definitely has the ability to work offensively, as Cousins and Davis can use their size to their advantage, Cousins has had some problems defending smaller and quicker players in the past. Last year Cousins was in the 33rd percentile for pick and roll defense, as he had problems switching onto guards.

Cousins also had problems closing out on perimeter shooters when offenders were 15 feet or more from the basket, they shot 1.8% better with Cousins defending them. Although Cousins is only slightly below average at closeouts, Western Conference juggernauts with good perimeter play, lineup versatility, and offensively savvy coaches will surely take advantage of his defensive immobility.

Unless Cousins proves that he can switch onto guards in pick and roll situations, and defend the occasional small forward in small-ball lineups, this will be a weak point for the Pelicans.

It seems as if Cousins may be working to fix this problem, as he has lost a decent amount of weight since the end of the season. This could contribute positively to his defensive mobility, especially when paired with his 7’6″ wingspan.

If DeMarcus Cousins adds on his already terrific play by reducing his foul total, leaving his temper out of the locker room and becoming more mobile defensively, he will definitely have a positive season in 2017-2018.

Next: Perry Jones III can be a diamond-in-the-rough

Just in time for his 2018 free agency.