One of the biggest question marks heading into this season for the Los Angeles Lakers is DeMarcus Cousins. The former All-NBA star hasn’t looked quite the same since his brutal Achilles’ tear in 2017 – which is to be expected given the severity of the injury. Unluckily, Cousins suffered another setback by tearing his quad during his rehab year with the Warriors last season, all but eliminating his opportunity to land the lucrative long-term deal he was hoping to earn.
At his best, Cousins is a dominant interior force with the ability to step back behind the three-point line and knock down shots at a respectable clip. While never the quickest big man, Cousins uses his size and strength well to clean up the glass and help protect the rim – making him a valuable asset at both ends of the floor.
On an extremely team-friendly deal, the play of Cousins could be the driving force in putting the Lakers over the top this season. While the Lakers are good without Cousins in the mix, his natural chemistry alongside Anthony Davis and versatility to either roll to the rim or pop out for an open shot should add an incredibly interesting layer to the Lakers’ offense.
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Lakers’ Coach Frank Vogel Has High Hopes for DeMarcus Cousins
Vogel lays out a fairly common timeline for return from an injury similar to that of the one Cousins sustained. While he may not have had an eye-popping season for the Warriors last year, the fact of the matter is that he wasn’t remotely close to being back to 100% on the court and needed plenty of minutes to even get remotely comfortable playing on his surgically repaired Achilles. With injuries of this nature, often the second season the player is back is when they start getting back to their old ways.
While Cousins also had to deal with the torn quad during the playoffs, with a full offseason to recover from that and continue to build confidence in his surgically repaired Achilles, he could be in line for a huge bounceback year.
Comparing his injury timeline to that of a Paul George or Gordon Hayward, it makes sense to expect some significant time to get back to his old ways given the severity of the injury. However, especially if Paul George is a benchmark for recovery from serious injury, it seems that Vogel has some high hopes for Cousins’ ability to get back to being a game-changing force over the course of the season.
DeMarcus Cousins Lakers Fit
Cousins should offer the Lakers an interesting fit on the offensive end. As mentioned above, he has a strong natural chemistry playing alongside Anthony Davis and gives LeBron James – and the rest of the Lakers’ ballhandlers – another versatile weapon in the pick and roll game. James has never had the opportunity to play alongside two dominant interior forces and should Cousins get back to his full health, the Lakers could have the opportunity to run out an incredibly unique – and deadly – lineup that would cause a number of mismatches in the modern, perimeter-oriented NBA.