On the midway level of the 2018-19 season, the Warriors are on tempo for a 58-24 document. Most NBA franchises can be popping champagne over 58 wins — this is not a “most franchises” scenario.
That might be the worst mark for the Warriors since Steve Kerr turned the top coach in 2014, and it signifies what a wierd yr it has been within the Bay Space. Golden State will as soon as once more contend for the No. 1 seed within the Western Convention, however accidents, clashes over playing style, an infamous on-court altercation and an unsure offseason on the horizon have left the crew with loads of uncomfortable questions.
Oh wait, did you neglect? There’s assist on the best way. DeMarcus Cousins, who has been recovering from a torn Achilles, is reportedly set to hit the floor for his season debut in opposition to the Clippers on Jan. 18. Cousins made a shrewd move last summer by signing a one-year cope with the Warriors, giving him the flexibility to correctly heal and nonetheless display his worth over the course of a deep playoff run.
Nonetheless, the Warriors might now want Cousins to inject life into the locker room simply as a lot as Cousins wants them to assist increase his free-agency prospects. Here is why the return of the four-time All-Star could not have come at a greater time.
DeMarcus Cousins fills the void on the heart place.
With starter Damian Jones out for the season (torn pectoral), the Warriors are primarily counting on Kevon Looney at heart. After a stable rookie yr, Jordan Bell hasn’t been practically as efficient. Clint Capela (29 factors, 21 rebounds) and Jusuf Nurkic (27 factors, 12 rebounds) dominated the paint in current wins for the Rockets and Path Blazers, pointing on to the big gap in Golden State’s lineup.
The vaunted “Hamptons 5” (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, Draymond Inexperienced) can nonetheless do harm with small ball, however the lack of a real huge man has been obvious in particular matchups. Cousins will not be the identical participant after such a brutal damage, however even 75 to 80 p.c of Cousins is an improve on the place.
Cousins is a terrific scorer at a number of ranges (25.2 factors per sport in 2017-18), sturdy rebounder (12.9 rebounds), keen passer (career-high 5.four assists) and respectable defender (1.6 steals, 1.6 blocks) when absolutely engaged. If nothing else, he might bodily problem facilities like Nurkic, Capela, Nikola Jokic and Steven Adams in a playoff sequence.
Nonetheless, it will likely be troublesome for Cousins to remain on the ground if groups unfold it out and pressure him to defend alongside the perimeter. This was a problem in opposition to the Rockets final season with James Harden typically utilizing Capela in screening actions, leaving Cousins frozen in no-man’s land.
He will not log 32 minutes per sport like he has all through his profession, however 20 to 25 minutes from Cousins at heart is large for this crew — particularly one in every of his struggling teammates.
Draymond Inexperienced might use some assist in the frontcourt.
Let’s be clear right here. Inexperienced has not grow to be a minus participant. Golden State’s defensive ranking is still elite with him on the floor, and he’s second within the NBA in Real Defensive Plus-Minus.
With that stated, Green is just not the same guy. His capturing has cratered (41.eight p.c from the sector, 24.2 p.c from 3-point vary), permitting opposing defenses to fully abandon him. He hasn’t attacked the basket with the identical aggression, whether or not to attain on the rim or create for others.
Insert Cousins, who’s comfy working in the identical areas as Inexperienced. Cousins can catch the ball on the high of the important thing, draw assistance on a drive and hit an open shooter in rhythm.
On post-up alternatives, his measurement permits him to scan the complete ground for cutters.
Not like Inexperienced, Cousins is able to sealing and ending with ease within the paint. Inexperienced establishes place to facilitate — Cousins establishes place to annihilate.
On the defensive finish, Cousins (6-11, 270 kilos) ought to save Inexperienced (6-7, 230 kilos) from a number of the put on and tear of banging with greater our bodies on a nightly foundation. Inexperienced has been compelled to eat up heart minutes out of necessity, as Kerr noted in December, however Cousins ought to be capable of ease the frontcourt burden within the second half of the season.
The Warriors want DeMarcus Cousins to convey a brand new form of power.
Nobody will cry for Golden State, however the weight of championship expectations and the grind of 82 regular-season video games plus 4 rounds of playoff basketball … that is loads to deal with. There is a critical bodily, psychological and emotional toll.
The highly publicized quarrel between Inexperienced and Durant stood out, nevertheless it’s the little issues that add up — that further cross did not come, that final jumper was compelled, that dude is simply too near my locker. This could possibly be the ultimate season NBA followers watch this model of the Warriors, and the teaching employees and gamers is perhaps feeling it, too.
Cousins generally is a rallying level for this crew. The Warriors expertise is new for him. His teammates can feed him the ball, cheer for him and reward him to the media. That is all optimistic power, a break from the every day repetition of movie periods, practices and video games.
“Boogie” will not be the very best or most vital participant on the Warriors. He knew that when he signed on as a one-year rental. However he could possibly be the participant who comes alongside on the good time to maintain a dynasty on the suitable path.