The NBA’s 30 Men Of Intrigue: DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins exists to fuck shit up.

This is a reality not everyone is comfortable with, especially those who are inimical to his interests on the hardwood. His destroyer-of-worlds, us-against-the-world ethos comes naturally in a time when the spirit of the league is at its friendliest off the court. Boogie is a villain in a world full of aspiring heroes, a monarch in a democratized association. Everyone has a place on the court in today’s NBA unless that court is shared – no, inhibited – by Cousins.

Cousins is a 6’11” excavator, set on demolishing interior infrastructure. He’s been gifted with the agility to go above and around those diametrically opposed to his route to the basket. He is a true back-to-the-basket big, with a nice face-up game and one of the league’s best drop steps. But his preferred course to the rim is right through the very men designed to prevent him from getting there. There are flashier dunkers, but no one else demands defenders to wear hard hats during mid-air meetings like Cousins.

Cousins’ game creates an atmosphere that few others have created before: a stirring vehemence, as if the butterflies in his stomach were replaced with a swarm of bees. The height of Cousins’ entertainment value is reached when he’s allowed to grab defensive rebounds and fly down the court like a young Charles Barkley. Cousins isn’t a runaway freight train on the break, he has more control than that. He’s more like a Ram 2500 flying downhill determined to obliterate any mid-sized sedan that gets in his way.

There are very few gaps in his offensive game. He handles double teams well, punishes opposing defenses for sending less than one, can extend his range to 15-feet with ease, and is a fantastic passer when he’s willing to move the ball. On the other end, he’s seen significant leaps. He’s become a help defender with purpose and moves his feet well enough to make timely rotations. There is still room for improvement when defending one-on-one, but it’s no longer due to a lack of effort. The gap between his disgust with the opposing team getting buckets at the rim and his love for destruction on the other end is closing, and that’s a scary thing for the rest of the Western Conference. For the first time in his career, the Kings defense was better with him on the floor than off, according to

What makes Cousins so interesting is that he’s become the biggest piece in a rather perplexing puzzle. The team brought in Rajon Rondo in the offseason to play alongside Boogie and Rudy Gay. The team drafted Willie Cauley-Stein and brought in Kosta Koufos, allowing Cousins to play fewer minutes at center – which is what Cousins has always wanted. Koufos will likely start for the Kings, but Cauley-Stein has the potential to become the perfect center to play alongside Cousins. With a big dedicated to protecting the rim on the defensive end, it will make Cousins a more efficient scorer, and allow for more energy to dominate the offensive end against what promises to be a higher percentage of smaller defenders defending him.

There is only room for optimism with these Kings. There is a nice splash of youth blended with a veteran presence, stirred by a coach who has a track record for getting teams to overachieve. At the center of it all is Cousins. Any success this team has hinges on his ability to lead an unconventionally built team through the grind of the stacked Western Conference. There are no easy nights for the Kings, but there will be no easy nights against the Kings, because DeMarcus Cousins exists to fuck shit up.

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