Frank Vogel, back in February, revealed that DeMarcus Cousins was “on track to get healthy by the playoffs“. However, a couple of days later, Vogel retracted his comments saying that Cousins was not close to a return.
Surprisingly a few days on from that, Cousins was waived to make room for Markieff Morris. But the 29-year-old could very well still have a future in Los Angeles. As it has been reported that himself and the Lakers have mutual interest in a contract agreement come the summer.
Cousins is coming off an ACL tear that he suffered during preseason. Such injury has ruined countless NBA careers. It’s a tightrope that unfortunately many have found themselves on throughout basketball history. Although, in recent years many have bounced back to their former selves.
It is likely that Cousins’ athleticism and physicality won’t be at the level it once was, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t get to a level near his former self. Zach LaVine and Kristaps Porziņģis are recent examples of players getting back to the top of their game following serious injuries.
However, when Cousins returns, what would his skill-set offer the team?
DeMarcus Cousins offers a powerful offensive arsenal and is accustomed to being heavily involved. Looking back at the 2018-19 season with the Golden State Warriors, although it was a small sample size, he displayed some promising signs following an Achilles injury.
He had an impressive 111.0 offensive rating with a Player Impact Plus-Minus of 2.2+. This was the first season Cousins was playing with a Championship caliber team and he showed that he was up to the task.
Despite having a below average season from the 3-point line (27.4%), he was averaging 16.3 points on 48% shooting. This offense is what the Lakers need and having a bench unit commanded by Cousins could provide the firepower needed for a Championship run next season.
If Cousins can regain his efficiency from range that he displayed during his years in Sacramento and New Orleans, then it will be frightening for the rest of the league.
Whilst looking at Cousins’ offensive impact, it’s important to have a look at his all-round game.
In his single season with the Warriors, his defensive rating was sitting at 106.5, with 1.5 blocks and 8.2 rebounds per game. For a lot of that season he was struggling and hesitant to get to the perimeter to contest deep shots. His rust and lack of conditioning was evident as his presence in the paint was not what it used to be also.
Towards the end of the campaign, Cousins showed glimpses that he has the skill and effort to be effective as he abused his size in the paint when blocking shots.
With LeBron James off the floor, the Lakers could utilise Cousins’ play-making ability. Additionally, he could produce some much-needed points and spacing.
No-one really knows exactly where Cousins will end up next season but for now he is rehabbing with the Lakers and that is beneficial for both parties. Cousins’ intangibles have really helped develop and grow the Laker culture and this was evident in Frank Vogel’s recent comments; “He’s become part of our family, so he’s going to be around”.
The Lakers’ actions towards Cousins will definitely play a positive part when he decides on his destination for next year. If he does come back to the purple and gold then an already blistering team will become more powerful.
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