#5: DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins has endured a horrible litany of injuries over the past few seasons. First, he tore his Achilles while as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans and then he tore his ACL upon joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
Recovering from one of these injuries is tough enough but to suffer both in such a short period of time has the potential to derail an entire career. At his best, Cousins, was one of the league’s most indomitable low-post scorers who used his heft to control the boards.
In his final half-season before he suffered his Achilles injury he averaged 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds a game on 47-percent shooting and 35.4-percent shooting from 3-point range on 6.1 attempts a game for the New Orleans Pelicans. He even posted career-best marks of assists per game at 5.4 and an effective-field-goal-percentage of 53-percent as he and Anthony Davis formed one of the NBA’s deadliest one-two punches.
The Rockets aren’t asking Cousins to be that player but he certainly believes he can get back to that level. However, Cousins first needs to prove that he can stay healthy and handle a heavy minutes load before he can start to dream of being an All-NBA caliber player again.
A successful season for Cousins will see him average at least 20 minutes a game. If he can first handle that type of load then he’ll need to prove that he can still terrorize opposing big men like he used to.
If in short bursts Cousins can provide the Rockets with the scoring and playmaking he flashed in New Orleans then they’ll be happy with the small investment they’ve made in him. It’s much more difficult to dominate a game for 30 minutes than it is 15, so striking a balance between stretching his minutes out and maintaining his effectiveness will go a long way in determining his value.
DeMarcus Cousins has a lot to prove this season for his future role in the league. The Rockets are hoping he succeeds because if he does, then they’ll have found one of the best bargains of the offseason.
Next: Number 4