Monday, March 11, 2013

DeMarcus Cousins, Troubled Young Artist

Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee

           DeMarcus Cousins is a lightning rod for criticism, seemingly pleading to get zapped by members of the media, local and national alike. In Sunday’s 115-113 loss to Milwaukee, Cousins’ bad reputation became reality once again when he got into a sophomoric squabble with Mike Dunleavy over what seemed like a rough, but fair play by the latter against the former. The back-and-forth resulted in Cousins being ejected for the fourth time this season.

           A man in many ways, Cousins often takes the role of a child – loveable at times, yes, but obnoxious at others. Nights like these in Cousins’ career cause those watching to question why Sacramento puts up with the young center. However, nights like tonight also provide the answer.

           He is equal parts destructive and artistic, and his aptitude for the arts is what keeps fans in his corner.

           It may be a while, if ever, before Cousins figures out how to avoid racking up the league’s most technical fouls or getting kicked out of a game, but one thing that he does have down is the spin move.

           Of all of Cousins’ vast skills that counterbalance his off-putting demeanor, his spin move may be the most polished and effective.
           If you watch Kings games (I wouldn’t blame you if you passed), the spin move is something you will see Cousins employ from all over the court. The most frequent site of spiraling Cousins devastation (other than the locker room) is on either block.

In today’s NBA game, playing with one’s back to the basket has become a lost art, but Cousins can look like Michelangelo with a blank canvas ahead of him when he is in the paint, sizing up defenders and timing his spin. Once in position, Cousins grabs his brush and strokes his first dab of paint by leaning inside, prompting his defender to lean with him. 

Cousins is so big and agile, it’s necessary for most defenders to go for the lean, even if they know the alternative, or else they’ll easily be sealed off by the Kings big man as he continues the uncontested inside turn to the basket.

More often than not, they take the bait.

Next, in one powerful, sweeping motion, Cousins finishes his post-play masterpiece. With the defender’s momentum shifting inside from Cousins’ lean, he quickly counters with a violent spin, leaving the off-balance opponent in his wake as he finishes at the rim.

That’s a typical Cousins fresco that will fetch for a pretty penny once he’s up for an extension next year, but it’s not his only style of spin.

Against Milwaukee tonight, he utilized the move in a nifty drive to the basket. 

Similar to the post move, Cousins used misdirection to get his opponent off-balance in his attack of the basket. (This is the key to any successful spin move, but as mentioned before, the player’s other abilities help determine if the defense will fall for it. Do they need to compensate for something else he may do, or can they just play straight up? It’s a chess match of sorts.) Only this time he did so by taking a jab step to the right, to get his defender to move into that lane. With the victim in place – or out of place, depending upon which side you’re watching from – Cousins struck with a clockwise spin move and dropped the ball into the basket for a graceful two points.

Watching this would-be Renaissance man go to work in situations like these is why both fans and those in the Kings organization put up with Cousins’ attitude.

With the help of brush strokes like his driving spin move, Cousins was on his way to putting together another work of art Sunday night before he forced himself out of the game. (He left in the third quarter with 24 points, 10 boards on 10 of 12 shooting from the field.) Cousins doesn't lack moments of brilliance like these, so it’s tantalizing for onlookers to envision what he could do with his very own Sistine Chapel ceiling, provided he ever gets head on straight.

His act is admittedly running thin, however, as is the line of those in Sacramento of those who support commissioning much more time of Cousins in a Kings uniform.

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