Regarding this year’s NBA Draft, conventional thinking has John Wall going first to the Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers, in all likelihood, selecting Evan Turner, the second best prospect by most standards. So, how about the Nets with the third pick?
What I gather most from what I’ve read of New Jersey Nets owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, is he likes to take calculated and minimized risks in business. Sure, a certain amount of luck is needed to succeed, but for the most part, he seems like he makes moves with a purpose (his recent media circus around the tume of the NBA Draft Lottery and his ownership becoming official being an obvious example). So, just knowing that, I don’t think he would chance having a potential seemingly issue-laden player on his team, drafted third overall in Prokhorov’s first NBA Draft, despite this player’s talent. It’s a new beginning for the Nets and DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t be a part of it.
Understandably, many people will disagree with this opinion, which is fine. Talent-wise, Cousins is right up there with any player in this draft. He has the ability to play very well in the post on both offense and defense, he wants the ball during crunch time, he can create his own shot, has a ridiculous 7’6″ wingspan, a big body ready to work on the block, and great hands. However, he also has a history of behavior that is conducive to sending up red flags should you be an NBA general manager.
The media hasn’t helped Cousins’ cause (sorry about that DMC), but mentioning flaws is part of the job. However, Cousins is the one to blame for his own scrutiny by the media. Even his own Kentucky Wildcats teammate, Daniel Orton, spoke about the potential bad behavior by Cousins. It should be noted that Orton did say that Cousins was a “loving spirit” before delving into how Cousins’ temper can get out of control.
That said, if you’ve ever played sports or any competitive endeavor, then you know how easy it is to slip into the intensity and emotion of the moment. It just seems that Cousins slips more than one would like when drafting high. And if you think a savvy NBA veteran wouldn’t know to push Cousins’ buttons, well, you just really aren’t paying enough attention.
Cousins has been a superstar wherever he’s played and he has the potential to be the same at the pro level. But the difference will be that no one will hold his hand or cover up his lapses in judgment, especially in the media capital of the world. He’ll be the latest millionaire in the big city, where the potential for sin is third to only Las Vegas and the Playboy Mansion.
Cousins is a 19-year-old man, an age when you act stupid (I know I did) and don’t fully understand consequences. However, as a professional, he’ll need to grow up quick. Can he do it? Considering Cousins’ track record, as an NBA GM, would you want to bet your job on it? Do you think an NBA coach, the usual fall guy when it comes to him versus the millionaire player with multiple years left on his contract, wants to coach that potential headache? Coming back to Orton, he also described Cousins as a “big little kid” that has to be controlled before he “gets way out of hand.” Hmm.
I know I haven’t spent much time about Cousins’ game, which is mostly because he can ball, but let’s consider a few things. He only averaged 23.5 minutes per game in 38 games during his freshman year at Kentucky, albeit very productive minutes. Cousins recorded a 16.3% body fat at the recent NBA Draft Combine. He and his agent are selling his being on a seafood and salad diet. All of these things has to have you wonder about Cousins’ conditioning. Will he be able to handle the rigors of an 82-game season and be as effective in limited minutes? Considering Cousins had to get into the ubiquitous “best shape of his life” for the combine, but still ended up with one of the highest body fat compositions, what does that say? And will he continue to eat seafood and salad once he gets his millions and able to afford filet mignon and fancy potatoes for every meal? Cousins doesn’t exactly have the best track record of discipline and it’s hard when you have to basically grind on the road.
On the court, my main point of contention has to do with the potential chemistry issues with Brook Lopez. Both are pretty good pick and roll guys and both like to work in the block. Is there much room for both players to operate without running into each other’s space and/or clogging the lane for the Nets’ slashers? Plus, I can see Cousins being a high demand guy, needing his touches and not looking to pass the ball back out. Basically, I can see Cousins being a pre-Grizzlies Zach Randolph at best, able to get the stats, but how will he mesh with his teammates. Add the fact that the Nets may still very well try to sign one of the free agent power forwards to slowly break in their rookie power forward, it could get ugly in the locker room.
Sometimes, you have to take risks in order to succeed, but with a new beginning and trying to appeal to not only the current fanbase, but future fans, the Nets can’t take a chance on the high risk/high reward/high bust potential of Cousins. The volatility rate is too high and as a businessman, Prohorov shouldn’t let Rod Thorn go the Cousins route.