Doug: I wouldn't mind DeMarcus Cousins in a Suns uniform
The NBA draft is only 18 weeks away and the Suns need my help.
Every week leading up to the draft I will explain who I'd like to see the Suns get in the 2010 draft on June 24.
Before we start, let's review last year. As many of you know, I was all about DeJuan Blair. I thought one of the biggest weaknesses of the Suns was a lack of physical toughness and a relentless desire to run someone through a wall to be successful. DeJuan Blair was and still is that person. DeJuan Blair, as a second round pick, is embarrassing the league every time he steps on the floor with his dominance of the glass. He's not the NBA Rookie of the Year this year but he's in the conversation (I would take Tyreke Evans of Sacramento for that honor right now). This year, there is no one that I think is as clear cut the answer for all that ails the Suns like Blair was.
Every week I'll highlight the a few college basketball players that I think epitomizes what the Suns need by the way they played the week before. Some of these players the Suns will have to trade up to get since the Suns gave up their 1st round pick to OKC so Robert Sarver could save money on the luxury tax. This is not a blog ranking the best players in the 2010 draft or college basketball overall. It's the players I want to see play for the Suns and my belief the individual fills a specific need.
Let's get one thing straight from the beginning, I know there are holes. DeMarcus Cousins has a lot to work on and his past work ethic has been questioned. I'm not worried about that because he has taken very well to coaching at the college level. Say what you want about the trail of sanctions left by John Calipari, the guy gets in the face of kids. Cousins has responded. I put DeMarcus Cousins second on my Suns Draft wish list.
Cousins had four rebounds in his first game and he's never had fewer than five since. In the last seven games, he's had a double-double in each one. He never has a problem finding energy. If there's an energy problem it's understanding the difference between intensity and ignorance.
I consider the Suns lack of toughness to be a major problem. Cousins will never be accused of being afraid of a challenge. He brings an unquenchable fire to rebounding that the Suns only have in Dudley and Amundson. However, Cousins is a far superior athlete to those current Suns. UK runs very few plays for him. He scores his points off of the offensive glass and exploiting mis-matches, which is both positive and negative.
When you have a player who earns his offense, it's a perfect match with any team chemistry wise. Cousins can come right in to any organization and fit immediately because he won't demand any touches.
The negative is the obvious. If he had a great offensive game, Calipari would be finding ways to get him the ball. With all due respect to Robin Lopez, when you draft someone in the first round, you'd like to get more offense from the pick than "garbage points" (which is a joke of a term because you work harder physically to get garbage points than any other).
Granted he's 19, but he's showing no signs of figuring out how to play in foul trouble. He can get out of control in his attempts to own the glass. I'd rather have someone I have to pull back and keep under control than someone I need to motivate if I'm a coach, but it doesn't make sense to build up someone who's going to play limited minutes because of foul trouble. Cousins also thinks every elbow is a challenge to his manhood, family history, hometown, home-room teacher, and Adolf Rupp. He doesn't realize he's got a "hot-head" reputation now. With that reputation comes bating. Although he's tough in a lot of areas, this is a lack of mental toughness. I'm willing to gamble that he will get it.
The best for DeMarcus Cousins would be to stay in school. He could increase his basketball IQ and learn when to be aggressive and when to let the action come to him. Since I'm using this blog to advise the Suns and not acting as Cousins' agent, I want the Suns to gamble on him anyway. Cousins brings the exact intensity the Suns need in the paint.
Next time you watch a Kentucky basketball game, watch Cousins. After the game, e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you think.