Warriors Roster & Lineup vs. Clippers: Impact of DeMarcus Cousins’ Return

Kevin Durant DeMarcus Cousins

Getty Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant and center DeMarcus Cousins

It’s been a long wait for the much-anticipated debut of DeMarcus Cousins with the Golden State Warriors. Fortunately, it’s set to end on Friday night when the man dubbed as ‘Boogie’ suits up for the Warriors in a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. In perfect fashion, Cousins’ debut comes in a nationally-televised game and will unquestionably draw plenty of attention.

After missing the first 45 games this year and the bulk of the second half of last season due to a torn left Achilles tendon, the 28-year-old is ready to complete the NBA’s best starting lineup. While it was originally unknown if Cousins would start, Warriors coach Steve Kerr confirmed that he will indeed jump into the first five, per Monte Poole of NBC Sports.

With that known, let’s first take break down the Warriors’ new-look starting lineup and roster for the matchup against the Clippers.

Warriors Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Clippers

Position Expected Starter Backup
Center DeMarcus Cousins Kevon Looney
Power Forward Draymond Green Jonas Jerebko Jordan Bell
Small Forward Kevin Durant Alfonzo McKinnie Jacob Evans
Shooting Guard Klay Thompson Andre Iguodala
Point Guard Stephen Curry Shaun Livingston Quinn Cook

With Cousins in the starting lineup, this creates one of the most eye-opening first fives in the NBA. While Kevon Looney has done a solid job holding down the center position through the start of the year, he’ll play a backup role moving forward. With that said, Cousins is almost certainly going to have a minutes limit Friday and likely beyond that so Looney should still receive a decent amount of run.

There’s an obvious reason to believe that the All-Star center’s return will impact players beyond just Looney, but it’s going to take a few games to get a better idea on that. With Looney’s ability to play power forward also, both Jonas Jerebko and Jordan Bell’s minutes will take a hit. Bell specifically has played less than 10 minutes in all but two of the team’s last 14 games.

Expectations for DeMarcus Cousins in Return

Although we’re talking about a player who’s averaged 24 points or more in each of the past four seasons, expectations should be tempered right out of the gate for Cousins. There’s no question he should be able to produce a few of his typical dominant moments in this game, but it’s been over nine months since his last game.

The big question is how much Kerr and the coaching staff want to play Cousins on Friday night. In most situations similar to this, the player sees a handful of minutes, possibly somewhere in the range of 10-15. But as Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports revealed, Cousins attempted to get cleared weeks before this.

If that had been the case, Haynes reported that the center would have been playing on a 10-minute restriction. Instead, he chose to continue his rehab in order to see more minutes once back on the floor. This could potentially point to Cousins having a realistic chance to play roughly 20 minutes or so, assuming things go well and the Warriors staff feels good about it.

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