All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins will make his Golden State Warriors debut tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. Cousins, a veteran of eight NBA seasons, is returning to the court after a year-long recovery from a torn Achilles. Now ready for action, the former Kentucky standout is primed to push the defending NBA Champions over the top in the Western Conference.
Cousins’ talent on the court has always been undeniable, but some early issues on a struggling Sacramento Kings squad dimmed the light surrounding his star-like profile. For the first time in his professional career, Cousins is finally in a position to put his skills to the test in the high-pressure atmosphere of the NBA playoffs.
Before Friday’s regular season contest gets underway, here is a brief look back at Cousins’ journey to the Warriors.
Cousins Joins John Calipari at Kentucky
Famed college coach John Calipari was all-in on Cousins’ upside when he was still serving as Memphis’ head coach. After landing with Kentucky, Calipari quickly went to work on getting Cousins to follow him from the Tigers to the Wildcats. Shortly after hiring Calipari, Kentucky received word from Cousins would also be taking his talents to Lexington. With a dominant big man inside, the Wildcats assembled a star-studded cast that featured John Wall and seven other soon-to-be NBA players.
Led by the dynamic play of Cousins and Wall, the Wildcats secured a 35-2 record before losing to West Virginia in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. In his lone season with Kentucky, Cousins averaged 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
The Sacramento Years
After going 25-57 in the 2009-10 regular season, the Kings selected Cousins with the fifth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Paired with promising second-year guard Tyreke Evans, it appeared that Sacramento was trending in the right direction. Unfortunately for Cousins and the Kings, that hope for the future never yielded tangible results.
Plagued by an inconsistent supporting cast, the Kings failed to surpass the 30-win threshold until Cousins’ fifth year in the league. Sacramento’s lack of success appeared to take a toll on Cousins and he was often labeled as a malcontent by several members of the media. Despite noticeable struggles, he qualified for his first All-Star Game for his production in the first half of the 2014-15 season.
Boogie Lands With the Pelicans
The Pelicans and Kings stole the show at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game by completing a trade centered around Cousins. Paired with fellow Kentucky alum Anthony Davis, the Pelicans possessed the most potent frontcourt tandem in the NBA. Without adequate time to mesh, New Orleans finished seven games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the final spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.
With a full offseason under his belt, Cousins helped lead the Pelicans to a 27-21 start before tearing his Achilles in a 115-113 victory over the Houston Rockets. With his partner in the post sidelined, Davis still managed to carry New Orleans into the playoffs. From the time of his trade from the Kings to his injury, Cousins appeared in 65 games for the Pelicans.
Making Waves With Golden State
Even while rehabilitating an Achilles injury, Cousins was the target of a handful of competitive offers in the summer of 2018. Instead of settling for less over an extended period, the former Kings star banked on his own ability to recover from an injury. Cousins passed on a reasonable extension from the Pelicans and signed a near-minimum deal with the Warriors.
Once his one-year, $5.3 million deal expires at the conclusion of this season, Cousins will once again become an unrestricted free agent. Cousins holds career averages of 21.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.