DeMarcus Cousins may be the best big man in the league to not have been named to an All-Star game. If Cousins played in the East, he would be the best big man in the entire conference. Unfortunately for him he plays in the West, where LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, Marc Gasol and David Lee play.
He also plays for the Sacramento Kings, who haven’t been a legitimate contender since he entered the league. Their .343 winning percentage last year is the best they have had since Cousins entered the league three and a half years ago. Their poor record and inability to compete has nothing to do with Cousins. He has averaged 16.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He has also only missed ten games in his first three seasons while averaging nearly 30 minutes per game.
He is having the best scoring year of his career at 22.5 points, and he is shooting a career-high 49.5 percent from the field. At 6-foot-11 and 270 pounds, he is one of the biggest players in the league, but he has the skills of a guard. He is one of the best passing big men in the game, averaging 3.1 assists per game.
On Friday night, he played against the defending two-time champion Miami Heat. The Heat have won 10 in a row against Sacramento and 19 in a row against the West. Cousins has never beaten the Heat since he entered the league, but all of that changed on Friday.
Cousins finished the game with 27 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in a 108-103 overtime victory. He scored 20 points after halftime and showed a lot of maturity in the fourth quarter. After being thrown to the ground by LeBron James, Cousins, who has had issues with his temper, walked away towards his bench instead of getting in an altercation. Less than a minute later, Heat point guard Mario Chalmers hip checked a cutting Cousins to the ground and once again Cousins walked away. The play was called a flagrant foul and Cousins sank both free throws to bring the Kings within two points. Rudy Gay made a jumper to tie it which turned the flagrant foul into a four point play.
In previous years, Cousins would have made it into an altercation and been assessed a technical foul or perhaps even been ejected. Understanding his importance to the team and that they are building around him, Cousins looks like he has matured and is ready to take his game to the next level.
If Cousins continues on this pace not only should he be a Western Conference All-Star, but he should be considered for the 2016 United States Olympic Basketball Team.