Now that the 2010 NBA Draft has come..."/>
Now that the 2010 NBA Draft has come..."/>

Sacramento Kings get franchise caliber player in former 'Cats star Cousins


by Andrew Hardison

Now that the 2010 NBA Draft has come and gone, DeMarcus Cousins appears determined to prove his critics wrong.

The former Kentucky Wildcats center was chosen with the fifth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings to be the center piece of a down-trodden organization, determined to become relevant once again. See a trend brewing here?

Cousins battled criticism throughout his time on the ‘Cats bench much like his new team, who have yet to succeed since the days of Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, and Mike Bibby. Now it’s Cousins’ turn to bring the Kings back to the top of the Western Conference and NBA relevancy. If there’s one player to make that happen it’s Cousins and his inner will to prove others around him wrong.

If Cousins is to make those things happen, he’ll have to play with the same mentality that he brought into workouts with the New Jersey Nets where he was thought to be good enough to go No. 2 overall to the Philadelphia Sixers or even No. 3 to the Nets. When asked if he will take that mentality to the court against those two teams, Cousins said “if somebody is considered better than me, I’m going to try to go out and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Cousins was considered to be a Top-3 talent in many NBA personnel’s eyes, but because of other issues—namely an attitude problem—Kentucky’s second best player slipped in the draft to the Kings.

The problem for other NBA teams is that they missed out on a chance to draft a once in a lifetime big man who could help get their team to the playoffs. As a rookie, Cousins hopes to “help my team win some games, get to the playoffs, go for a championship and my own personal goal is to win Rookie of the Year.” Those may seem like lofty expectations for a player going into his first year in the league, but there may not be a better candidate to do so than Cousins.

Cousins will most likely come off the bench when the season starts—definitely not a bad thing—considering the amount of young talent the Kings roster boasts especially at the power forward/center positions. Newly acquired veteran and center Samuel Dalembert will man the starting center spot with the unheralded Carl Landry starting at the power forward position. That means Cousins will have the chance to learn from two, quality players right off the bat.

He’ll also have the chance to take over a starting position because of his various skill sets as a center. Cousins showcased an improved jump shot during pre-draft workouts, a trait many didn’t get to see in John Calipari’s dribble-drive offense. Cousins was the go-to guy in the paint and showed how dominate he can be in the low post. Much of his Cousins’ success will depend on how headapts to an NBA style offense as well as improvements on the defensive side of the ball.

If Calipari is as good as advertised at getting his players ready for the NBA, Cousins has a very good chance of making a big impact in just his first year on the scene. Expect solid numbers from the Kentucky big man, but nothing overwhelming. Cousins should receive 20-25 minutes a game—Top-5 picks usually don’t get anything less—with an expected production output of around 10-12 points per game to go along with 6-7 rebounds per game. With that said, Cousins could very well go for even more, posting similar numbers to what we saw from him in college.

For someone who dominated players on the college level, it won’t be as easy this go around and will most certainly take a little more time. That could very well test Cousins’ maturity level right away and whether he can handle the added pressure of being an NBA star.

All in all, Cousins is a no brainer in my eyes. Three to four years down the road, Kentucky fans should be watching an All-Star caliber player in Cousins to go along with former teammate John Wall. Only time will tell at this point.

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