Demarcus Cousins may be the biggest enigma in the NBA, but this offseason his development from charismatic but sometimes brash budding star to team leader will take on a much more important role. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee wrote today on why this offseason will be a huge one when it comes to ending the franchise’s 8-year playoff drought. With teammates and starters Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas eligible to become free agents at the end of the year, Cousins must become the type of superstar player that attracts others to stick it out with him in Sacramento.
Some of Cousins’ former teammates in Sacramento say privately they’re relieved to be away from him and his bullish personality. Many around the league wonder if Cousins will become a player who commands his teammates’ respect in the locker room.
Just as other star players do, Cousins needs to become the team’s biggest recruiter and selling point for free agents. But he must become a respected leader and teammate to persuade players to come to Sacramento.
Cousins’ talent is undeniable, coming off his 4th season in the NBA which he averaged 22.7PPG and 11.7RPG, but his most important star quality is yet to be fully developed. After going through 2 coaches in his first 3 seasons in the league, Cousins seems to be finally realizing his awesome potential under first year coach Mike Malone. However, there is still a ways to go before the draw of playing with Cousins brings other stars to Sacramento with him.
In his last game of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which he picked up his 16th technical foul that led to a one-game suspension for the season finale, Cousins berated Thomas during a timeout for not getting him the ball. Thomas sat off to the side, smirking during the tirade. Gay finally stood up and reminded Cousins the Kings were winning.
Coach Michael Malone said Cousins has made strides at becoming a better teammate. Cousins also admits he’s learning how to lead in the right way. But there’s only so much professional players will put up with, especially on a 28-win team. Outsiders see Cousins’ 22.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game and wonder why the Kings do not win more. The Kings were 0-11 without him in the lineup this season.