Boogie Could Be Lakers’ Wild Card!
How a near minimum signing of free agent DeMarcus Cousins could be the move the propels the Lakers to a championship
Somewhere between a disappointing playoff series against the Raptors and the NBA’s continued disrespect for the center position, DeMarcus Cousins once again found himself relegated to playing for a near minimum contract.
Struggling to recover from a devastating Achilles injury, Cousins actually had a surprisingly productive season with the Golden State Warriors, averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 assists in 25.7 minutes per game before falling victim again to injury, suffering a torn left quadriceps in a noncontact play early in the playoffs. While he was able to come back in the Finals, he had no lift and was a shell of himself physically.
But Boogie may have finally seen his luck turn as the Los Angeles Lakers, who just lost the Kawhi Leonard free agency sweepstakes to their crosstown rival Clippers, offered him the opportunity to join the purple and gold, play with LeBron James, and reunite with former Pelicans’ teammates Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo. Davis, whom the Lakers had acquired in a trade with the Pelicans earlier this summer, had one short message for him: “Let’s win it all.”
If he can stay healthy and return to his preinjury form, DeMarcus Cousins could be the wild card that propels the Lakers to the NBA championship. Before the torn Achilles in January 2018, he was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals in 36.2 minutes per game. Those are superstar stats and it’s no exaggeration to claim DeMarcus Cousins could well become the third superstar the Lakers missed out on this summer.
There’s no question it normally takes a full two years for an NBA player to completely recover from a torn Achilles tendon. By January 2020, we should see a fully recovered DeMarcus Cousins playing for the Lakers alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the missing lift and explosiveness he lacked during the Finals could be distant memory with a healthy left quad and Achilles. Fans forget that DeMarcus Cousins is still only 28-years old.
The NBA, especially the playoffs, is all about matchups and the Lakers Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins could be a matchup nightmare like we’ve never seen before. Combined, they averaged 69.6 points, 28.7 rebounds, and 15.8 assists per game last year. That’s more points, more rebounds, and more assists than any three NBA players on the same team regardless of the position played averaged together last year.
While the rest of the NBA is going to roll out run-and-gun guard centric lineups, the Lakers are going to zig while they zag. While they added the elite three-point shooting head coach Frank Vogel needs to play inside-out, the Lakers’ playmaking prowess is going to come from their superstar Big Three. No team in the league who can match the passing ability that Le Bron James, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins can provide from the front court.
But make no mistake, the Lakers are going to be playing modern offensive basketball as all three of their front court Big Three can stretch the floor. LeBron James is a career 34.3% from deep, Anthony Davis a career 33.3% from deep, and DeMarcus Cousins a career 33.2% from deep. The Lakers also upgraded their guard three-point shooting. Danny Green, Quinn Cook, and Troy Daniels are career 42.4%, 41.8%, and 40.8% shooters from deep.
But modern analytics driven offensive basketball is more than three-point shooting. It’s using the threat of the three to open up the paint for easy layups and opportunities to get to the line. The Lakers have built a team that’s going to thrive from deep, at the rim, and from the line. Defensively, they’re going to control the boards, protect the rim, and defend the perimeter aggressively. They’re a talented team that can play fast or slow and inside or outside.
The Los Angeles Clippers may have won the battle for Kawhi Leonard but the Los Angeles Lakers may have won the war for the city and the championship by signing DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie is going to be the wild card the Clippers and the rest of the NBA are going to regret allowing the Lakers to acquire. He’s going to give the Los Angeles Lakers a front court Big Three that will haunt the Clippers and propel the Lakers to their 17th NBA championship.