Houston Rockets negative #1: DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins is off to an uneven start to his Rockets’ career. He has the team’s best defensive rating by a large margin at 96 points per 100 possession but he also owns the team’s worst offensive rating of 83 points per 100 possessions for any player who has played at least 50 minutes.
The fact that Cousins’ is posting a career-best defensive rating and a career-worst offensive rating raises the concern that he is not all the way back after suffering an Achilles tear and then an ACL tear over a three year period. If Cousins continues to perform at this level on offense, no matter his defensive output, he’ll become unplayable and will dramatically limit the Rockets’ frontcourt depth.
In all likelihood, Cousins will start regressing towards his career defensive and offensive ratings, which both stand at 103 per 100 possessions. Another concern for Cousins is that he’s posting abysmal offensive numbers while simultaneously shooting 40-percent from 3-point range.
No qualified player shooting 40-percent or better from 3-point range has as bad an offensive rating as Cousins. The main culprit that has tanked his offensive production has been his inability to finish at the rim.
Through four games, Cousins has shot 41.7-percent on shot attempts three feet or closer to the basket. A number this low is unacceptable at the NBA level and a far cry from Cousins’ career 62.3-percent shooting on these shots.
This could be a small sample size blip, but after two serious lower-body injuries it’s possible that Cousins don’t have the physical burst anymore to consistently be a force in the paint. It’s unlikely that Cousins will continue to hit lay-ups with the same efficiency as he hits 3-pointers but if he had hit the ground running the Rockets would be a lot happier.
DeMarcus Cousins has been a negative thus far for the Rockets on the offensive end and a plus on the defensive side. Look for him to right the ship on offense and become a crucial cog in their frontcourt rotation, but it’s possible that the days of Cousins dominating in the low-post might be over.