In today’s NBA market, highly questionable defense, shaky shot selection, a mediocre showing of advanced stats, and the emotional baggage of a three-year-old gets you $62 million. According to Sacramento Kings bigwigs, DeMarcus Cousins is worth every penny of that Scrooge McDuck bounty. They just signed him to a four-year extension that comes in as a near-max deal for an organization looking for a makeover.
They’ll need one once Cousins is done with them.
As you would expect, the 23-year-old Cousins didn’t turn down the offer, agreeing to it on principle.
The general consensus is: ‘Yeah, he probably doesn’t deserve $15.5 million a year but he’s shown streaks of brilliance, is only 23, and it’s Sacramento—who else are you going to get?’ How about your pick from a very deep 2014 draft?
Paying Cousins that sum implies that, as management and ownership, you believe he can be the face of the franchise. Essentially, that he can carry you to a ring. But what happens when you land an Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Marcus Smart? Your options grow more limited in re-signing them, especially considering that Ben McLemore (Sacramento’s most recent top draft pick) might also be due a big payday. By the time either of those scenarios come to fruition, Cousins would still have one-to-two years remaining on his bulky contract.
Either you tell Wiggins or McLemore that they’re worth the max, not both. And there’s the added gamble that both McLemore and a 2014 draft pick turns out to be more fundamentally sound than Cousins. Which won’t be too hard to do.
Keep in mind: Cousins only has potential going for him. He can post a 20-10 statline but there’s no evidence to prove that he actually helps the Kings win games. As radio personality David Locke pointed out, the team is better offensively and defensively when the big man is a spectator.
On top of being a locker room liability, he’s not all that fundamentally sound. Sure, he’s got a nice PER and nice athleticism but a look at everything else proves a rather bleak picture.
Last year, his true-shooting percentage was 52.4. League average is 52.2. Ranked at No. 67 for big men who played at least 1,500 minutes, he posted a worse TS% last year than P.J. Tucker, Antawn Jamison and Omer Asik. If you look at his Win Shares (for >1,500 minutes), he was 65th behind Shane Battier, Emeka Okafor and Spencer Hawes.
Even when you try to accommodate him for his youth, you get horrendous results. Since the 1979-80 season, of players who have averaged at least 20 MPG, Cousins came in at No. 505 when factored for Win Shares Per 48 Minutes and that when sliced for players’ first three years in the league (the amount of time Cousins has been in the NBA). Teammate Jason Thompson came in at No. 503. Under similar parameters, his 2012-13 season came in at 136th-best when ranked for WS/48.
Anywhere you dig—whether in Wins Produced, Wins Produced Per 48 Minutes or Net Rating—you end up with the same result: Cousins looks like a major disappointment waiting to happen. Hope your future was worth $62 million, Sacramento.