DeMarcus Cousins vs. Derrick Favors

The guy on the left. No, the right. No, left. No, right. Ugh, screw it. Take Zoubek.

(Fair warning: You thought my John Wall article was exhausting to read? This is about twice as long. Good luck, guys.)

Since the day the Basketball Gods confirmed that they do not exist and allowed Washington and Philadelphia to pick above us, a debate has raged on in NetsLand about who they should select with their upcoming #3 pick. Assuming John “The Great” Wall and Evan “The Franchise” Turner are selected with the first and second picks, the third pick remains much more up for debate – between Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech and DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky. Both freshmen big men, both with pronounced strengths and weaknesses, both with a solid case to be drafted.

Unlike my blogger-in-crime Dennis Velasco, who has made up his mind already on who we shouldn’t take, I am far more split. Because of that I’m going to do the only thing I can decide on: debate with myself on the issue. That’s right. Welcome to my own version of Stephen Colbert’s Formidable Opponent, only this one promises to be much more about basketball and much less funny.

There are six main points to the argument that I see that can make or break the pick: athleticism, ability in the post, other basketball skills, production, better fit, and mental makeup. Thus, I will be arguing all six, split-personality style.

I swear, guys, I’m not crazy.

Onward!

ATHLETICISM



DF-Devin: Ha! The first test is definitely an easy victory for me. Favors ran much faster (3.25s sprint vs. 3.55s), jumped well higher (35.5″ max vertical vs. 27.5″, & unlike Cousins actually lifted weights. This was all expected, because Derrick Favors is obviously a superior athlete, and you don’t need a microscope or combine numbers to figure that out.

Let’s be clear right now: if John Wall is the most athletic guard coming out of this draft, Derrick Favors is the power forward equivalent. His physical tools – a legit 6’10” in shoes, a 7’4″ wingspan, a 9’2″ standing reach, and 245 pounds with only 6.5 percent body fat is absolutely outstanding. To compare, his measurements look eerily similar to one Dwight Howard’s, who last I checked has looked pretty good in an NBA uniform. While Favors might not have the ridiculous shoulders that Howard does, it’s clear that his body type can be the new athletic NBA prototype power forward. Not to mention his unreal physical motions – a 35.5″ max vertical, an 11’9.5″ no step vert reach and a 12’1.5″ max vert reach (both the highest in the combine this year), along with throwing up 14 bench reps? Where is this kid from? Did LeBron’s test tube DNA get thrown in with Serena Williams’s eggs? Have we made the ideal athlete at the power forward position?

As I said about John Wall, athleticism is at a premium in the NBA right now. Between slight changes in rule interpretations and budding athleticism in recent years, having both the skills and the hops is becoming a necessity. & insofar as hops, no big in this draft compares to Derrick Favors – especially not Cousins, who measured out as one of the worst top-prospect athletes in recent memory.

DC-Devin: Well, you’re definitely right about jumping higher and running faster. Good thing we’re creating a triathlon team. Wait, this is basketball? Oh, well, never mind then. You’re right that athleticism means a ton more nowadays – for guards. Last I checked this is still a big man’s game – the two teams in the Finals feature two not-so-athletic but definite Hall of Famers (Gasol & Garnett) and two other seven-foot bruisers (Perkins & Bynum) at the 4 and 5 spots.

As for not lifting weights, do you get what lifting measures? Oh, that’s right. Pretty much nothing. It’s an exercise that shows how many times you can lift a bar 185 pounds while lying on your back. Not exactly a basketball skill. Is that why Luke Harangody (this year’s lifting champ with 23 reps) is on his way to a top-2 selection and Hall of Fame career? Honestly though, it’s an exercise that doesn’t benefit Cousins – it’s more difficult for players with longer arms (like, 7’5.75″ across, for instance) to lift the bar the entire way up than guys with short, stubby arms like Luke. All it would have done is make people question how strong Cousins really is, despite the fact that he basically demolished every single opponent he faced this season.

I won’t argue that Cousins has the better motions, because obviously he doesn’t. What I do question, however, is the value of these assessments. JaVale McGee & DeAndre Jordan had equally good (if not better) combine numbers than Favors did two years ago, and they’re not exactly tearing the roof off Washington and Los Angeles. It’s a good start, but it’s just that – a start.

DF-Devin: I’m sorry, is “already being strong” an acceptable excuse for not showing off your strength? Didn’t think so. Dwight Howard had a freakish wingspan as a high schooler and still put it up 20 times, hell, Favors put it up 14 himself and he suffers from the same wingspan problem that DC has. The least Cousins could have done would be to show that he can at least put up a dozen, but instead he thought wimping out was a better idea.

Yeah, the Finals this year is full of old, slow big men. You know what the issue is, though? It won’t last for long. Garnett (who is a face-up PF now, anyway, and was certainly athletic before the injury) is closer to 35 than 30. Gasol will be on the wrong side of 30 soon. Perkins & Bynum aren’t going to carry teams themselves. Who’s the best big man in the game? Dwight Howard. An athletic freak. & he doesn’t have an athletic PF equivalent in the NBA yet. McGee and Jordan are two bad examples because neither one of them was considered a potential top-3 pick based on ability as well as athleticism. This is where Derrick Favors – who also measured eerily similar to an average of Dwight Howard and Al Horford – is going to make his mark.

DC-Devin: It won’t last long? Please. Where’s the evidence for that? Dwight Howard still can’t figure out fundamental defense against him in the entirety of a seven-game series. Hell, had Andrew Bogut been healthy, they would’ve given Howard far more of a run for their money because of how many strides he’s made on defense in the last two years. Like it or not, strong, dominant big men may not run the floor well, but they sure as hell run the NBA. It’s been that way for the last 50 years (minus the Jordan era) and they’re going to last as long as strong big men exist. Enjoy all that jumping ability, it’s not going to mean anything when Cousins is slamming the ball through Derrick’s face in the post next year.

Besides, You know Cousins didn’t have any input on that weight-lifting decision, anyway. I’ll bet all my articles on this site that it was his agent’s decision, much like John Wall skipping the drills too. & one more grain of salt to chew on: despite Favors’s so-called insane athletic ability, Cousins actually registered the quicker feet on the agility drill: 11.4 seconds for Cousins as opposed to 11.74 for Favors. Suck on that, “Mr. Super-Athlete”.

POST ABILITY



DC-Devin: If you think athleticism was a slam dunk for Favors (which it’s not), then post ability is Cousins’s two-point smash. Favors still has nothing in the way of a go-to move, while Cousins has some of the most advanced offensive low post footwork in the NCAA to complement all that strength. Cousins has  a surprisingly quick (remember those agility numbers?) spin move as well as a great up and under, which are shown consecutively here. Actually, that entire video is an excellent example of Cousins’s ridiculously advanced post moves. He has a rare combination of power & quickness down low with a soft touch. He attacks the glass with reckless abandon, posting some of the best rebounds per minute pace-adjusted in the last decade from a top prospect, and many of those come on the valuable offensive glass. In short, he’s a physical beast down low.

DF-Devin: This would all be super important if Cousins was in a 3-on-2 pickup game where he played offense the entire time. Unfortunately for him, basketball is a two-sided game, and Favors has defensive tools that Cousins couldn’t dream of. Unlike Cousins, Favors actually understands the meaning of defensive rotation and is the perfect complement to Brook in the low post, since he’s quick enough to close out on shooters. As for offensively, Cousins is also aided by the fact that he was given some of the most insanely easy looks for a big man in all of college basketball. As a post player, you’re naturally reliant on your guards, and Cousins was given bunnies from John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. Iman Shumpert & Moe Miller are not exactly a post player’s dream.

DC-Devin: Did you say quick enough to close on shooters? Have you forgotten the agility results already? Cousins blocked the same amount of shots as Favors per 40-pace adjusted, too, and his stronger frame allows him to body up more in the low post. & you can’t ignore the difference between the two offensively in the post – Favors still struggles with a hook shot while Cousins has almost half a dozen moves and one of the softest touches in amateur basketball.

DF-Devin: Post moves can be learned easily, especially with a guy on the same team as Brook Lopez. Defense is more difficult to grasp because it’s a dirty, underappreciated skill that requires focus and dedication. As for Favors, he may not have as wide an array but knows how to finish – 62% from the field this season, and 64% over the last dozen games when he began to get more touches. & that’s his basement. Give him a decent left hook and he’ll be unstoppable.

OTHER BASKETBALL SKILLS



DF-Devin: This is another place where Favors really has the upper hand. He can dribble well, shoot up to 18 feet, runs the floor like a deer, has decently quick hands, and although I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to this seemed to have pretty solid passing skills – Cousins and Favors both averaged exactly one assist a game, which isn’t great, but Favors had much worse shooters around him.

DC-Devin: I think this one is more even, actually. Perhaps the most overlooked and fascinating part of this process is that DeMarcus Cousins actually has a surprisingly sound guard-like game as well. He can dribble the ball, create his own shot, and although he was never asked to show it off in Kentucky because of their offensive scheme had a great mid-range-to-three game in high school. That last link is actually a link to Cousins’s highlights from a high school game between Cousins and Favors – the entire thing is highly suggested. It shows a LOT of what Cousins can do that the dribble-drive offense restricted him from doing: he throws a ton of nice passes and even has a couple of decent dribbling moves, especially in transition. It also shows him destroying Favors on offense. As for assists, the Yellow Jackets shot better from 3 than Kentucky (.362 to .333) and the Wildcats offense was predicated around guards creating their own shot. Although he’s not exactly Brad Miller in the post, it’s only natural that his assist totals are depressed as a result.

DF-Devin: I’m glad you brought up that game in high school. Cousins played well – 21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, 4 assists. You know how Favors did? 36 (or 39, depending on the source) points, 19 rebounds, & 4 blocks of his own. Destroyed him production-wise. If only there was a video online of his highlights. (Seriously – if anyone has one, send it my way. Or even the full game. That would be perfect.) According to DraftExpress’s Rodger Bohn, “Favors showed off a gorgeous perimeter jumper that extended all the way out to the three point line. By our count, he drilled 6 jumpers from 15 feet and beyond, including one deep 3-pointer. Favors also appears to have improved his ball-handling skills and even his footwork on the blocks. … Favors was a force on the defensive end, rebounding the ball with great tenacity and blocking quite a few shots (certainly more than he was credited for) while staying out of foul trouble. ” To me, that sounds like a guy who can fill a bunch of roles on both sides of the floor, and I’m not sure Cousins can do the same at the next level.

DC-Devin: Favors got a bunch of numbers, Cousins’s team got the win. Plain and simple. Besides, that video (and other reports about him in high school) show that Cousins has an offensive game that stretches beyond the paint. Calipari stuck him in there because he had to – in the dribble-drive offense, everyone else was either a driver or a shooter, and they needed at least one guy to play constant bruiser. In the NBA, he’ll be able to both destroy players on the inside and stretch the offense on the perimeter, & do so much more reliably than Favors.

BETTER FIT


Note: This picture has nothing to do with fit. I just thought it was hilarious. He looks like he belongs in “Where the Wild Things Are.”


DF-Devin: Now this one you’ve got to concede, right? With Brook Lopez manning the 5 already & DeMarcus Cousins being a top-flight C prospect, there’s no way he fits into our system. What we need is an athletic guy who can both stretch the offense and help out on the defensive end, and Favors is much better in defensive rotations than Cousins is. He can be a game-changer from day one at the PF spot.

DC-Devin: I understand your (my?) point. But being a Nets fan these last two years… Truth be told, I don’t care about the better fit. I don’t want a guy who’s going to blend in seamlessly with a team that’s fresh off a seventy-loss season. I want a guy who’s going to shake things up. I want a guy who’s going to take losing personally. I want a guy who’s going to push Brook Lopez in practice, start a few fights with Yi Jianlian, and give this team a little more chest hair. Is Derrick Favors that guy? Maybe. Is DeMarcus Cousins that guy? Definitely.

DF-Devin: Definitely? Now you’re stretching it. Is he definitely a guy that will give a coach headaches? Yes, definitely. Is he definitely a guy who would feel like he’s entitled to a starting spot from day one? Almost definitely, at least. Derrick knows that he’s got a lot of work to do and would fit easily into a backup role for a couple of years to season his game.

DC-Devin: Yeah, that’s what you want in a #3 pick. A project who won’t be ready to contribute for two to three years.

DF-Devin: Not the point.

DC-Devin: Sure it is. Hold your horses. Putting aside both the can-he-contribute-right-away & the can-Cousins-play-the-4-effectively arguments, you’re also projecting our team only into the draft, without considering what happens afterwards. Starting July 1st, the NBA is going to have the single greatest free agent power forward market ever. Chris Bosh, Amare’ Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, David Lee, even darkhorse Dirk Nowitzki will all be available, and we’ve got the cap space and the excitement to entice at least one of them.

If we manage to land one of them, we can run a three-man rotation of Brook/FA/Cousins in the 4 and 5 slots for 35/35/26 minutes per game easy. That helps maximize Cousins’s ability by giving him slightly less playing time to hide potential conditioning issues and gives us a dominant frontcourt right away. In my opinion, that’s better than waiting for some guy who might come around.

DF-Devin: Wait, didn’t you just make my argument for me? Favors being behind a top-flight PF for a couple of years rather than thrusted into a starting spot right away would do wonders for his development. He could spend time learning from the guy ahead of him on the depth chart (& Favors seems much more receptive to help than Cousins ever has) and turn into a dominant force with excellent tutelage. Plus, he can be thrown out there for 35 minutes if ever needed with no worry if he’ll come wheezing down the court with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

DC-Devin: Could Favors evolve into a great PF? Sure, it’s definitely possible. Even the staunchest pro-Cousins crowd would agree with that. Will he, though? That’s another question entirely. It seems clear to me that Cousins could contribute coming off the bench from day one, and still has the insane upside of being a Shaq-lite. With a team that has a five-year championship range, do we want to wait on a guy who might be great with the right guy ahead of him, or take the guy who’d instantly compete for Sixth Man of the Year award? The answer seems obvious to me.

MENTAL MAKEUP


DC-Devin: Oooh, boy.

DF-Devin: HA. Good luck. I’ve really got nothing to say, since Favors is awesome. But go ahead, make your case.

DC-Devin: First things first (and I have to spend 1,000 words on it because it’s all anyone will talk about): The concerns surrounding Cousins’s mental makeup are simultaneously very real and very, very exaggerated. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and there’s been enough smoke to cause some concern. However, as a natural skeptic I have to ask if the fire’s been hyped up a little too much.

There’s definitely some negative body language from Cousins at times and Daniel Orton has mentioned the need to restrain him in practices (although, to be fair, we’ve only seen Cousins restrain Orton). But on the court – where they actually play the games, not in hotel rooms – the guy has actually been very consistent. Other than the elbow against Louisville (which came after getting kneed in the face) and a hilarious unintentional , the guy hasn’t gone off the deep end in games. He’s been given a pretty rudimentary role – stay inside and beat the hell out your opponent’s body – and he’s thrived.

It’s certainly easy to interpret Cousins’s intensity as a negative, as a red flag that teams expecting to take him should worry about. It has been. That being said, the NBA is a man’s league. Intensity is a necessary component in success. You need a guy who’s not going to take getting beaten lying down. The Nets lacked a lot of things last year, but I don’t think you’d get much argument that one of the big ones was heart. A guy to go to the trenches with, to get in someone’s face and scream. A guy who takes losing personally. The Celtics have it in Kevin Garnett, the Lakers have it in Kobe Bryant. (Not saying Cousins will be as good as these two production-wise, don’t get it twisted.) The Magic didn’t have it, and that was their biggest weakness. The Suns didn’t have it in games 1&2, and they could’ve used it. We all saw how good Amare can be with a little intensity in him in game 3. DeMarcus Cousins has that gene, and I’m not sure Derrick Favors does. To me, that’s a point in his favor, rather than against him.

Forget the witless & unfunny “he eats too much food” jokes. We’re trying to win basketball games, not beauty pageants. & there’s no doubt DeMarcus Cousins will help some team win basketball games over the next decade.

I think the best judge of Cousins’s character can be found in the MSU incident. Before the Kentucky-Mississippi State game in February, Cousins’s phone number was leaked online with the point being to flood his phone with texts and calls to distract him. The messages were filled with hateful, racial, and homophobic slurs, enough to drive a man to anger-filled retribution regardless of his regular temperament. You know what he did? He played basketball. He pulled an 19-14 out of his bag of tricks. He rubbed in in their faces, dunking on them and asking them to call. He cracked jokes about it with reporters. If Cousins was really a guy ready to go off the deep end, you’d think someone awful would have happened regarding the prank calls. At least an off game and a couple of hospitalizations. Listening to some of the incensed criticism calling him code words like “thug,” “bad boy,” and “criminal,” you’d think someone would have been shot. Instead, he took it out on the court, with a little flair.

“To me, I don’t believe my game was ever a question,” Cousins said. “I just believe me mentally, that was a question, and I think I’ve improved a lot with that, just growing up.”

Cousins’ behavior has been described as anything from a big kid to “precocious,” the word used by SEC radio announcers last weekend.

His past is well-known. Cousins wound up at LeFlore for his senior season after a string of public mishaps at schools near Birmingham. He wasn’t deemed eligible to play at Clay-Chalkville amid allegations of coach recruiting. Before that, Cousins reportedly got into a fight with a faculty member after a game during his sophomore season.

Along the way, there were other antics — on or off the court — that scared off many college coaching staffs despite Cousins’ obvious talent. That included Alabama, which didn’t really recruit Cousins, be it Mark Gottfried’s previous staff or Anthony Grant’s current one.

Cousins wound up in Lexington at one of the nation’s highest-profile programs when John Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky. People braced for fireworks, but trouble hasn’t happened. Cousins will say he has worked to shed old labels, and teammates agree.

“He’s grown a lot,” Bledsoe said. “In high school, you couldn’t even talk to him. You couldn’t even say three words to him, and he’s just going to snap. Now you can see he’s trying to change.”

A post-play altercation during the SEC tournament proved it. Cousins was not involved, but he sprinted over to pull teammate Daniel Orton out of trouble, playing peace-maker on national television.

“That’s just me, growing up to be a man,” Cousins said. “Like every other person on the team, we just have to grow up.”

Notes Calipari: “The reality of it is he’s come so far. He’s got a long way to go now, but he’s come so far.”

“The bar’s been really raised on him,” Calipari said, “in what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. I think the other thing is as the accolades started coming his way and when he was being (seen) as this player and this kind of person — in a good way — I think he kind of liked it. And so now he’s striving towards that.”

http://blog.al.com/press-register-sports/2010/03/demarcus_cousins_growing_up_at.html

Now, I know that despite the fact that I’ve spent far too much time deconstructing DeMarcus Cousins’s personality, & that most people won’t change their minds on the matter – he’s either a hardheaded jerk or an intense but loving spirit. The only thing I can say is that I have serious doubts that it’s that black and white, and when so many of his teammates and people close to him have stood up for him, you have to wonder who’s writing these stories and why.

DF-Devin: Interesting case. But you do get that the fact that I don’t have to write 1,000 words about Cousins means I already won this one, right?

DC-Devin: Maybe. I just think it deserves a closer look. This has always been the issue with DeMarcus Cousins, BUT – if teams such as the Nets are overvaluing his potential red flags and undervaluing his talent (the guy is #1 in Hollinger’s Player Rater – ahead of Favors, Turner, and Wall), he could potentially make any team who passes on him regret the decision for a decade.

DF-Devin: Didn’t Hollinger’s Player Rater rank Michael Beasley to be the next great superstar? Better than Kevin Durant? Yeah, that’s what I thought. & wait, Beasley was a guy with character red flags? Shocking, really, how that works out.

DC-Devin: To be fair, Beasley hasn’t failed because of his character issues so much. He’s been a problem because he’s too much of a tweener – too short to play PF but not skilled/quick enough to be a full-time SF. He’s also been completely mishandled by Erik Spoelstra, who has no idea how to fully maximize Beasley’s skills.

DF-Devin: Wait, am I nuts? Michael Beasley hasn’t been derailed by character issues? This is a guy who posted a potential suicide note on Twitter before the year started and then had to go to drug rehabilitation for marijuana. Marijuana. Do you know how much pot you have to smoke to need to go to rehab? Have you seen Half Baked? That’s a rhetorical question. I know you have. I’m you, after all.

DC-Devin: Has Cousins had any misdemeanors? Pot busts? Didn’t think so. People keep talking about the guy’s “off-court issues” but always seem to forget to mention specifics. He had a couple of issues in high school, sure – but who didn’t? The kid was 15 years old and had the weight of the world on him, not to mention an upbringing in a community where violence and shootings were commonplace. If he didn’t have any problems, it would be more shocking.

DF-Devin: Shocking, huh? About as shocking as, say, I don’t know, Derrick Favors having a clean bill of mental health, despite not exactly a cushy upbringing of his own? I don’t want to come off rude, DC-Devin, but are you effing kidding me? Stop making excuses for a guy who’s clearly got red flags. Yeah, you (I) got into some altercations in high school – did you (I) ever get into a fight with a faculty member? No. How about get kicked off the basketball team? Not that either, and with about 1/10000th of Cousins’s talent. This is a guy who openly blew off an interview to hang out with his friends in a hotel. This is a guy who measured at the combine as an awful leaper, and had the second-most body fat of any player. The first? Tiny Gallon, who only has that nickname because he thinks a gallon of chocolate syrup is a tiny serving for his daily hot fudge sundae. Favors is a guy who comes off in interviews as humble but confident, ready to not only become a part of a team but also to shine in his role. The differences are night and day. No question.


PRODUCTION




Click the pictures above for DraftExpress’s full statistical breakdown.

DF-Devin: If you look at the production by itself, it seems to give Cousins the edge – he scores more, grabs more rebounds on both ends, and holds a slight edge in steals, blocks, assists and turnovers. But there’s a lot of context not being shown here. For instance, it hides that Cousins had fantastic guard play. If you’ve been following the debate between Favors and Cousins at all, then you know that Favors did not have a single adequate guard getting him the ball down low. At any level, big men are fed success by their guards. If their guards can get them easy buckets, they will look great. If their guards can’t do that, their production will suffer. Cousins & Favors are like fire & ice in this regard; while Cousins was receiving fantastic looks 3-4 times a game from John Wall & Eric Bledsoe, Derrick Favors had to deal with Iman Shumpert as his primary playmaker. Ouch.

DC-Devin: Guards don’t put the ball in the basket for you. Even including that, it shows that Cousins is more aggressive offensively. Despite having similar free-throw percentages & field goal rates, Cousins gets to the line nearly twice as often as Favors does. Cousins has no issue with finishing through contact – as a guy with a ton of upper body strength, it’s one of the big points in his favor. Favors is an excellent finisher but doesn’t have the same ability or willingness to attract contact down low. He certainly does it – it’s inevitable as a big man that you’re going to have to bang – but he’s not conditioned to it like Cousins is. Not only that, Cousins has a much higher offensive rebound rate despite being on a team that shoots better from the field (thus less opportunities for offensive rebounds). He attacks the glass with absolute reckless abandon, and the numbers show it.

DF-Devin: It’s easy to be more aggressive when you’re given the ball on a silver platter and only have to play half the game. Which leads into my next point: it hides Cousins’s potential conditioning/playing time issues. One of the bigger problems with the per-40 pace adjusted numbers is that it assumes all players can play at a high level for those 40 minutes (or, at the very least, allows us as interpreters to view it as such). However, Cousins averaged under 24 minutes per game, averages over five fouls per 40-pace adjusted, and never played 35 minutes in any game this season. It’s worth noting that his production didn’t suffer when he played more minutes, but it’s a small sample size – he played more than 30 minutes in only three games all year. Favors has none of these issues – he averaged 28 minutes per game, only fouled out once all year (in the NCAA Tournament loss against Ohio State), and played his best basketball while getting more playing time at the end of the season.

DC-Devin: While that’s an interesting point – and I think most people agree that Cousins potentially has conditioning issues – that also needs further contextualization. Firstly, Calipari played around a lot in the first half (before conference play) with rotations. Secondly, Kentucky played in a lot of blowouts, which limits all starter minutes. Check out his game logs, you’ll see what I mean. If you look at games in 2010, decided by less than 15 points (when conference play began and rotations were more solid), Cousins averaged 27.1 minutes in those contests. Not exactly shabby when you’re sharing playing time with two other potential lottery picks.

DF-Devin: Well, as long as I’m inventing criteria, Favors played over 30 minutes 11 times this season, including in 8 of the final 10 games. He’s far more reliable to hold up in the 4th quarter of close games as a result. He also played by far his best basketball during this time span – averaging 15.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks during that time frame on 63.9% shooting. Finishing strong is a very good sign, especially for a guy as young as Favors. Cousins, on the other hand, started to show chinks in his already tubby armor near the end – averaging only 12 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks during the same span while shooting 61.4% from the field (better than his season average, but worse than Favors in the same time). If Cousins falters near the end of an under-40 game season while his greatest competition thrives, how is his body going to hold up in 82?

DC-Devin: To be clear: he had a bad stretch for sure, but it wasn’t the last 10 games. It was for a couple of weeks in March. In the last three games, when the wear and tear should have been at its highest, Cousins had a 19-8, a 16-7, and a 15-8 and shot 22-29 (76%) from the field. Basically, don’t take too much from the “hot/cold ending” argument.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Truth be told, I don’t have a conclusion to this a la Wall vs. Turner because I don’t think there’s a 100% clear-cut conclusion to be found. The pro-Favors crowd will point to his once-or-twice-in-a-decade athleticism for his size, his innate finishing ability, his upside, his temperament and his conditioning as marks over Favors. The pro-Cousins legion will conversely point to Cousins’s insane production, his overpowering body and his mean streak as reasons why he’ll dominate at the next level.

& they’re both right. Frankly, I see both of these guys succeeding at the next level. They’ve both got a few reasons why they might not, but similarly they both have about 100 reasons why they will. They’re two very different players who can fit in a variety of schemes and potentially dominate their competition. They’re head and shoulders above the next guy (Wesley Johnson) because of production & age alone, and chest, arms, and stomach above the other big men in this draft (Aldrich, Monroe, Motiejunas, Davis, Patterson, Orton, etc.) as well.

If you put a gun to my head, I’m 51-49 in favor of Favors right now because his combination of fluid athletic ability and finishing skills enable him to potentially be the Dwight Howard of power forwards, the potential “next” in a game that’s shifting towards athletic fundamentals. However, Cousins’s overpowering ability down low combined with his surprisingly sound game both inside and outside give him the potential to dominate right away. Besides, I’ve already flip-flopped like six times since the lottery on who I like better. As a Nets fan, I’m just glad I’m not the one who has to make the call, and I’d be happy with either one.

Unless, of course, the Sixers pass on this guy.

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