Is DeMarcus Cousins abandoning his strengths?

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Joe Treutlein of Draft Express thinks so:

To say Cousins has undergone a dramatic role change in the NBA would be somewhat of an understatement. At the college level, Cousins was a dominant player in a variety of ways, utilizing his massive size, strength, and length to punish the opposition on the glass and finishing around the basket, the primary reason why he was able to be so productive. In the NBA, he’s reverted to many of the habits he showed in high school, trying to be more of a finesse player than a dominating post presence…

Looking at Synergy Sports Technology’s quantified statistics paints an accurate picture of the story. At the college level, Cousins took just 24 jump shots on the entire season, whereas in the NBA he’s already taken 156. As a percentage of all his field goal attempts, Cousins is shooting jumpers four times more frequently in the pros, and it’s coming at the expense of post-up moves and shots around the basket.

While Cousins’ drastic change in shot selection is incredibly harmful to his efficiency, with his eFG% dropping from 56% to 44% this year (the NBA league average is 49.7%), it’s equally if not more harmful to other areas of his game… All things said, Cousins has gone from a player who dominated in a handful of areas at the collegiate level to a player who struggles to be above average at anything in the pros.

It’s clear that Cousins hasn’t been the kind of low-post presence in the post that he was in college. As Treutlein mentions, Cousins is less effective down low when he does get the ball there, is coming out to the high post to catch the ball instead of sealing off down low  and waiting for the pass, and has been far too content to settle for jumpers at the NBA level.

Cousins is clearly talented — consecutive 20 + point games against the Lakers, Hornets, and Celtics don’t happen by accident. And he’s still only 20 years old. However, he has been going through some serious growing pains in the NBA, and he may need to go back to the low post  more to have success in the future.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.