Yesterday I posted about SI.com and their countdown of the 100 best players currently in the NBA, including Tayshaun Prince at #61 and John Wall at #72. Today I found a similar undertaking by the folks at CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball blog, because what else are you gonna write about during a lockout? The first former Wildcat to crack the Top 100 in their countdown is DeMarcus Cousins at #77. If you’ll recall, Sports Illustrated left Big Cuz out of their list altogether, citing turnover struggles and attitude problems. In this edition of the Top 100, Eye on Basketball had this to say about Boogie:
Cousins was a top-10 knucklehead last year. He was benched for making a choke sign at an opponent during a free throw attempt. He was thrown off the team plane for fighting with a teammate. He was kicked out of practice. He was fined for undisclosed reasons. He was ejected from a game for shoving Martell Webster during a fracas. The list goes on and on.
There were two bigger concerns than all of that immaturity: turnovers and efficiency. Cousins committed 3.3 turnovers in just 28.5 minutes per game and shot just 43% from the field. It’s not unusual for young big men to deal with those issues, though, and improvement in both categories going forward is a virtual certainty, as Cousins learns how to adjust to the NBA game, NBA officials and figures out how to best use his huge frame and excellent instincts around the basket. Despite his many flaws, Cousins’ size and skill give him a chance to be a top-25 NBA player far more quickly than you might expect. The talent and potential are there, lurking beneath the surface.
I’d briefly like to applaud Eye on Basketball for acknowledging Cousins’ talent and including him in the list, but I’d also like to ask why it was necessary to begin the countdown of plays 80-71 with an asinine comparison of DeMarcus Cousins and #80 on their list, Grant Hill? Here is what they said about both players:
The two players contrast in so many ways. Hill graduated from Duke; Cousins went one-and-done at Kentucky. Hill has won sportsmanship awards; Cousins required a babysitter with the Kings and was suspended for fighting with a teammate. Hill hangs with United States President Barack Obama; Cousins has palled around with rapper Drake. Hill no longer has the explosive athleticism that was his calling card but has mastered every last veteran trick; Cousins possesses an incredibly rare combination of size, strength and quickness but has yet to harness his full potential.
Before this paragraph, EOB took a look at the age difference of the two players, which is fine, but this contrast took it a bit too far, in my opinion. It’s certainly because I’m extremely biased, but it doesn’t seem fair to exploit a young player in such a way. DeMarcus Cousins donated not only his money but also his time to the victims of the Alabama tornadoes, he established himself as a lovable figure and fan favorite throughout Kentucky and he’s talked with Barack Obama as well. I think they should have stuck to the age difference instead of unfairly painting DeMarcus in an overly negative light through his contrast with Grant Hill, but that’s just me.
Luckily, the next time this list comes out, the only thing they’ll be able to talk about is Boogie’s ascension to the upper echelon of NBA superstars. Top 20. Write it down.