Almost halfway through the NBA season, this is not what the Golden State Warriors and their fans envisioned.
Expected by many to cruise to a third straight title, the Warriors have been plagued by infighting, speculation of losing Kevin Durant and at 25-13 already have four more losses than 2016’s record-breaking unit.
But they do have an ace in the hole by the name of DeMarcus Cousins. We have no idea what Golden State with the addition of the four-time All-Star center looks like. But we may know soon.
Cousins takes in full practice
Cousins was a full participant at practice on Wednesday as he progresses from the Achilles tendon tear that ended his 2017-18 season, a significant step in seeing how the offseason’s most compelling transaction not involving LeBron James plays out.
“I don’t know exactly when he’s going to play, but he practiced fully today,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “He has to work on his conditioning.”
Kerr conservative on Cousins’ timetable
Kerr declined to speculate on the timing of his return to action, preferring a cautious approach with Cousins’ health and in dealing with the media.
Non-update update from Warriors practice: DeMarcus Cousins again took part in all activities, but there still remains no target date for eventual return. Here’s Steve Kerr on what will go into eventually clearing him. pic.twitter.com/YxdTULp66w
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 2, 2019
“I’ve got to feel good about putting him on the floor,” Kerr said. “DeMarcus has to feel good about being on the floor. … I can’t really put a percentage — I think we’ll just know.”
Warriors need help at center
With Kevon Looney (6.5 points, 5.4 rebounds per game) and Jordan Bell (2.6 points, 2.7 rebounds per game) seeing the bulk of the minutes at center for Golden State, there’s significant room for upgrade at the position.
A healthy Cousins seems an ideal fit for the Warriors. A versatile big man who can pass and shoot 3-pointers, Cousins in theory would space the floor and give the Warriors’ array of offensive weapons room to operate.
How much of the old Cousins is still there is the big mystery. Achilles tendon tears are notoriously difficult to recover from, often stripping their victims of the athletic prowess and burst they once had.
The stacked Warriors obviously don’t need or expect the Cousins who has averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds for his career to show up. But anything that resembles that version of Boogie would make Golden State that much more imposing on offense.
Cook: Cousins aggressive in scrimmages
Point guard Quinn Cook told reporters that Cousins has been aggressive in scrimmages and is asking his teammates to go hard at him like they were playing a game.
Quinn Cook said Boogie is telling guys to go at him when they’re scrimmaging pic.twitter.com/b2ScgQElG1
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 2, 2019
“He’s coming along great,” Cook said. “We match up a lot. He tells me to go at him, like try to simulate a real game. You can definitely see how much better he feels moving laterally and just running up and down with conditioning.”
Cook’s assessment is more telling than Kerr’s and paints a picture that Cousins could be back on the floor relatively soon.
How would Cousins impact Warriors?
Adding Cousins to the lineup will require some significant adjustments, and Golden State would presumably like to work out the kinks before the playoffs. Of course that concern doesn’t outweigh the need to be cautious that Cousins is physically ready for live game action.
But for Warriors fans, the news is something to get excited about. After turning the page on the new year, the eventual addition of Cousins can change the narrative on what’s been a difficult start to the season.
Whether that addition smooths over the early season drama or adds to it is yet to be seen.
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