LEXINGTON, Ky. – DeMarcus Cousins has established himself as one of the best big men in the NBA since leaving Kentucky after the 2009-10 season, but he hasn’t enjoyed much winning in his six professional seasons.
The Wildcats went 35-3 in Cousins’ only season in Lexington. The Sacramento Kings have gone a dismal 164-312 since drafting the former Wildcat in 2010. That’s a 34.4 winning percentage for a team that has finished better than 13th in the Western Conference just once in the past six years.
Cousins has had many much-publicized run-ins with head coaches (the Kings have had six of them since 2012), and he’s been labeled nationally as a player who’s difficult to deal with.
But the there’s no doubting his talent, and Cousins proved at UK that he’s willing to cede some of the spotlight (and stats) to other great players, forming a great friendship and on-the-court relationship with John Wall.
Cousins did that again at the recently completed Olympics, where he helped Team USA roll to a gold medal, averaging 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in a bench role.
UK coach John Calipari, speaking at a press conference Thursday morning, said he hoped Cousins’ Olympics stint would be a wake-up call of sorts for his former player.
“It’s big,” Calipari said. “The best thing for him is that even if you have to step back and you win, what that feeling is. Now chase that feeling. Chase that feeling in Sacramento. It means you may have to add a couple more pieces and those pieces may, at certain games, they may be the dominant player and you have to be able to accept that. He’s proven by playing at Kentucky that he can do that, and now playing on the Olympic team. He can do that.
“So now it becomes them getting a couple more players, because in that league, it’s a talent league. It’s become a miss-or-make league. If you miss, you lose. If you make shots, you win. Become that. But it’s also about the talent you have on the team. If you want to win you better have really good players and more than just one or two.”