4. Cousins is a respectable shooter
The past four seasons have seen Boogie shooting an average of 34.4 percent from deep on 4.5 attempts per game. While that isn’t an elite 3-point shooting percentage, it doesn’t have to be for Cousins to help space the floor.
In the first pre-season game, he showed that he must be respected behind the arc, as he made three of his four attempts. Because defenders cannot just leave him wide open from the 3-point line, he keeps them from sagging off of him and hovering near the inside.
When the Rockets decided to buy into small-ball last season, this was the very effect that was observed, and it resulted in Russell Westbrook playing some of the best basketball of his career. With John Wall on the team and looking more explosive than someone coming off an Achilles injury should, he should benefit from this as well.
The difference between spacing the floor with small-ball and spacing the floor with Cousins is that having Cousins on the floor keeps the Houston Rockets from forfeiting the size, strength, rebounding, and rim protection of a center while keeping the paint from getting clogged for driving or cutting players.
If James Harden decides to give this team a chance, he will benefit from this as well. Instead of a lob being the only way Harden can defer to a center to score, he will be able to kick it out to Boogie for an outside shot if need be.
While Harden had this advantage in the small-ball system, what he did not have was the option to also drop it into the post for some one-on-one post play. As strong as P.J. Tucker is or as lengthy as Robert Covington was, they did not have the size or post moves necessary to truly be a threat in that area of the court.
Stephen Silas may not orchestrate very many plays through the post, but the important thing is that the option is available to him, John Wall, and James Harden if and when it is the most efficient way to score on any given possession. This was not a realistic option before Cousins arrived.
Boogie’s abilities to shoot and score in the post allow the Houston Rockets to have a more versatile and fluid offense, which will make them more difficult to defend.
Next: No. 3