Earlier this week, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Sacramento Kings and center DeMarcus Cousins were working to get an extension done before the Oct. 31 deadline. It was also reported earlier this week that legendary NBA center Shaquille O’Neal had become a minority owner of the Kings.
Those two pieces of news aren’t unrelated. As reported by Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, O’Neal plans to serve as a mentor for Cousins as he becomes part of the organization. According to the article, Shaq plans to focus more on the basketball side of things with the Kings while allowing majority owner Vivek Ranadive to handle the “business” end of owning an NBA team.
One of the things that Shaq noted about mentoring Cousins is that he doesn’t plan to change Cousins’ game. That’s actually not a bad idea at all. When he’s engaged, Cousins has all of the talent in the world. He can put up a double-double at will, score in a variety of ways, play okay defense, and has solid ability as an interior passer.
As we all know and have seen from Cousins, though, his biggest issues lie within the mental aspect of the game. The center has shown time and again that he has trouble with his maturity and behavior on the floor, which has resulted in way too many ejections and technical fouls over his young career for a player of his caliber. More than that, he also has a tendency to just go through the motions when he’s on the floor and seem disengaged from the game.
That mental aspect is what Shaq plans to focus on. In his playing days, Shaq was always a guy that loved to have fun and, at times, was even criticized for his commitment and being disengaged as well. However, when it came time to get the job done and be a leader, it’s impossible to say that Shaq failed in that regard.
Cousins may not have all of the natural gifts that Shaq did as a player, but he will greatly benefit from learning mental aspects of playing center and being a leader in the NBA from O’Neal. Who knows if Shaq’s mentorship will actually change Cousins, but it seems like Shaq is one of the few people who could potentially get through to the soon-to-be-extended center.
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