So free-agency is practically over, everyone is just awaiting to see what will be of Russell Westbrook and James Harden because they are after all top 10 players in the NBA and could impact the outcome of this coming season which is a month away. I never took Cousins signing anywhere seriously because he looked nothing like the guy who was scoring 40 points and hauling down 20 rebounds in New Orleans in his short tenure in Golden State. He attempted to break the league by signing a $5 million dollar dollar for 1-year with the Warriors in what was the best starting lineup in NBA history on paper with Curry/Thompson/Durant/Green/Cousins. Injuries took a toll he was not able to help the Warriors win Game 6 at Oracle after Klay Thompson went down with an injury in the 3rd quarter but he’s worth the gamble. They say you never come back the same from an Achilles injury, Dominique Wilkins once returned better than ever from an Achilles injury but the probability is low that a player ever gets back to the player they were before the injury.
I personally love the signing of Demarcus Cousins because new head coach Stephen Silas spoke about playing a multitude of ways instead of running the offense through James Harden or Russell Westbrook Stephen Silas is looking to get more off the ball movement and initiate the offense through the post a lot like the Denver Nuggets do with Nikola Jokic. Demarcus Cousins more than likely won’t be overpowering opposing bigs and muscling his way through traffic for dunks and heavily contested lay-ups but he is indeed 6’11 and an exceptional passer out of the post. Demarcus never really relied on athleticism to score it was more decent footwork and knowing how to gain separation from defenders in the post. Demarcus Cousins will still be able to shoot that post fade-away and with the way the game is being played now he will be at a physical advantage in the paint. You can’t teach 6’11, don’t let anyone tell you you don’t need size to win in the NBA because the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets learned in the bubble how valuable a center would’ve been for them when they couldn’t control the boards.
The Rockets were predictable last season, I knew Westbrook and Harden were going to score 25+ points every night but there wasn’t much production from the rest of the supporting cast and it’s sad no one took them seriously last season. I applaud Tillman Fertitta for letting the James Harden and Russell Westbrook rumors cool down over the past few days and be willing to deal with both those guys being in training-camp this coming December. To me it makes no sense for the Rockets to trade Russell Westbrook and James Harden, you aren’t going to immediately win the moment you put something together for the first time. Not to mention going from Chris Paul to Russell Westbrook is a massive adjustment specially when you’ve got a coach like Mike D’Antoni at the helm who doesn’t know what holding a player accountable is. He practically put the ball in Steve Nash’s hands in Phoenix and Nash made Mike D’Antoni look like the best coach in the NBA for multiple seasons. Mike D’Antoni is not a mediator and never will be, I’ll give him credit for pushing the 2018 Golden State Warriors to 7 games but his days a head-coach are over.
Back to Demarcus Cousins, I’m sure he is mentally in a place now where gratitude is at the top for him and this will be an opportunity he won’t take for granted. Whether it is starting or coming off the bench playing 20 minutes a night, Demarcus could serve as the primary scoring option while Westbrook and Harden are off the floor or Stephen Silas could have Westbrook or Harden play an inside-out game with Cousins. Playing through the post will require Westbrook and Harden to move a lot more off the ball and cut to the rim instead of holding the ball for extended periods of time in hopes of having defenses collapse and having Westbrook or Harden find open shooters. The Lakers quickly picked up the on the Rockets’s dribble drive and kick-out plays with Westbrook and Harden and like they say you live by the 3 and you will by it. With 20 minutes a night I think Cousins could average 12-15 points per game and average 7-8 rebounds, putting Cousins and those low numbers together was comical a couple years back but let’s face it he’ll never get back to that center who put up prime Shaq numbers.
To conclude your basketball card would be revoked in the eyes of many NBA fans if you say Russell Westbrook,James Harden,and Demarcus Cousins are going to win the NBA title this coming season but it is not out of the realm. If Westbrook and Harden listen to Stephen Silas and forget about scoring 30 points a night and collecting 10 assists the Rockets could be a top 3 seed in the Western Conference. Stephen Silas put his trust in the Rockets organization to get him a back to the basket big man and the Rockets did just that, they also signed big man Christian Wood who will give the Rockets much needed size after trotting out 6’5 PJ Tucker to play center in the bubble. With Wood and Cousins in the front-court the Rockets will have two versatile bigs who can shoot,rebound,and block shots which will be vital come playoff-time. For all I know Cousins does not make the opening night roster but if he remains healthy this coming season and acclimates himself within the offense and learns to work with Westbrook and Harden I would not want to face the Rockets come playoff time, till next time.