Why Demarcus Cousins Did NOT Ruin the NBA.
With the recent addition of Demarcus Cousins to an already seemingly unbeatable Golden State Warriors team, many NBA basketball fans have already given up on the upcoming 2018-19 season. In reality, the addition of Cousins will not have nearly the impact that it would seem at a glance.
When most fans think of Demarcus Cousins, the player that comes to mind is someone with a rare combination of scoring, passing, and ball handling in a 6 foot 11 and 270-pound frame. In just eight NBA seasons, Cousins has established himself as the best offensive center in the NBA. A fully healthy Boogie Cousins joining this Warriors team is the real-life version of the Monstars. The unfortunate reality is that Cousins is currently recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. A torn Achilles is among the worst injuries an NBA player may suffer. In the past, players have seen a significant decline in ability and others never played another game. Brandon Jennings tore his achilles in the middle of the 2014-15 season. Before his injury he averaged 15.4 points, 6.6 assists, shot 40% from the field, 36% from three, and started all 41 of the games he played. Upon his return in the 2015-16 season, Jennings averaged 6.9 points, 3.5 assists, shot 37% from the field, 33% from three, and started only seven of the 48 games he played.
Demarcus Cousins’ reason for signing with the Warriors was not because he wanted to ruin the NBA by adding his dominance to an already overpowered Golden State team. He signed with the Warriors because they provide him with the most flexibility. The Warriors are the only team who would not have to rush Boogie’s recovery in order to compete for a title. In this situation, Cousins can take as much time as he needs to recover and will not have to play heavy minutes when he returns to the floor. This gives Cousins the best chance to make a full recovery, or as close to that as possible. It is also overwhelmingly probable that Cousins will win a championship this year which increases his value when it comes time for him to sign his next contract in the offseason.
Even if Cousins were to make a full recovery and return to his elite level this year, the dominance of the Warriors will begin to fade after the following season. Both Cousins and Klay Thompson are free agents at the end of the year and Kevin Durant may decline his 31.5 million dollar player option and become a free agent as well. Draymond Green will become a free agent after the 2019-2020 season. These players are all underpaid and, excluding Cousins, have won multiple championships. It is very unlikely that Green, Thompson, and Durant would all take less than a max contract to stay with the team. While the Warriors will probably be able to resign at least one if not two of these players, they will no longer have the firepower to consistently dominate in a league with LeBron and the Brad Stevens coached Celtics.
A final thing to consider is that the Warriors, while still remaining heavy favorites, may have some competition this coming year. The LeBron lead Lakers are unlikely to compete for a title this year but cannot be written off completely. However, the Boston Celtics have a decent chance, albeit an unlikely one, of dethroning the Warriors this year. This is the team that was written off early in the playoffs as their two best players were injured and would not return. The Celtics then proceeded to be the biggest surprise of the 2018 playoffs as rookie Jayson Tatum led them to the Eastern Conference Finals where they narrowly lost a 7 game series to LeBron’s Cavaliers. With superstar point guard Kyrie Irving and elite scoring wing Gordon Hayward returning from injury, the Celtics are the runaway favorites to come out of the East. While the Warriors are still significantly more talented, they will have to fight their way through a difficult western conference that now has LeBron James. The Celtics, on the other hand, have a relatively easy path to the finals and will be more well rested and prepared.