Upon his return, DeMarcus Cousins should come off the bench as a playmaker and scorer, to get adjusted to the Warriors’ offensive system.
DeMarcus Cousins should be back on the court soon. When the All-NBA center will be back exactly remains to be seen. There were reports that Cousins could return from his Achilles injury and make his Warriors debut during the team’s five-game road trip. But the team is in no hurry to put the all star center back on the court unless his health is at 100 percent.
There was a report from the Mercury New’s Logan Murdock about Cousins targeting for an after Christmas return. If that holds true, what a belated Christmas that would be for the Warriors.
— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) November 26, 2018
Whenever the Warriors medical staff and head coach Steve Kerr decide to bring Cousins into the fray, he will be a welcome addition to the squad. The question following that will be: How should Kerr use Cousins when he returns from an injury that has been historically unkind?
The answer may not be to push him into the fire, to become a starter immediately, but rather, bring him off the bench. Bringing Cousins off the bench will help get him acclimated to the offensive style the Warriors like to play.
With Cousins coming off the bench, he can be a playmaker at the top of the key and the offense can run through him, as he is a willing and fantastic passer. Last season, Cousins averaged a career-high 5.4 assists on a New Orleans Pelicans squad that featured Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday.
Now, imagine his assist totals passing to all-time great shooters, such as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Those numbers would skyrocket. One bone-crushing screen and those shooters would have time to read Adam Silver’s signature before launching their moonballs.
Cousins would not just offer playmaking abilities if he came off the bench, but also, a floor-spacing element from a big that perhaps only Jonas Jerebko can replicate. The Kentucky product provides the consistent outside perimeter threat that they have not possessed since Marreese Speights was with the team in 2015.
It draws the opposing big man out of the paint and forced to defend the feathery touch of Cousins. Cousins’ outside shooting can be best utilized when he is trailing the play on offense, or called the “trailer” and screening and popping out for a three-point shot. As the trailer, Cousins can get the ball and step into the three in rhythm without breaking hesitation. Now, as the screener, the defender would be worried about Cousins rolling to the basket, that he would just pop out to the three-point line.
In the first play of the video, the Pelicans run a pick-and-pop with Holiday and Cousins. Cousins sets the screen to get Holiday free and Holiday finds Cousins open on the wing for a triple. Several of the triples by Cousins is off of dribble penetration or just a pass, catch and shoot for the big man. It is hard to envision Cousins will receive the kickouts on a regular basis like he did in New Orleans. The play the Warriors will most likely run with Cousins with the bench mob is a pick-and-pop. Who would be Cousins’ tagteam partner in this possible scenario? The best guess is Thompson or Durant.
Last season, Cousins shot 87-of-243 or 35.8 percent from 25-29 feet, which is a reasonable percentage from those distances. With the gravity and floor spacers the Warriors possess, that percentage should only increase.
In addition to outside perimeter shooting and playmaking skills, Cousins would bring a physical, inside presence off the bench, the Warriors never have truly had in the Kerr era. With this presence on the interior, Cousins will command double-teams opening the doors for shooters such as Thompson and Quinn Cook to get wide-open looks. He can also be the go-to scorer in the second unit, relieving pressure off whichever other all-star is in the game (whether that’s Thompson, Durant or Curry) and punishing opponents with his physicality, post-moves, soft hook shots and his ballerina-like footwork.
Cousins may not want to come off the bench to start off his Warriors stint, but coming off the bench allows him to get comfortable with playing with different teammates, instead of just instantly playing with the other stars. It allows chemistry to form between Cousins and the other substitutes.
Eventually, the third Splash Brother will start alongside the other four all-stars to build chemistry to help with fourth quarter crunch-time situations and other vital circumstances the Warriors will face during their quest to win a three-peat. After all, this is the reason Warriors general manager Bob Myers went after Cousins during free agency this past summer.