Somewhere near the top of the list of things Keith Smart has to do that his predecessor as coach of the Sacramento Kings (Paul Westphal) couldn’t do is build a good relationship with DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins is immensely talented but with an ego to match. He’s not loved in his own locker room, other teams around the league are wary. The talent was never in question, but he fell to No. 5 in the draft because of those concerns.
Smart made an interesting point about Cousins and growing up to the National Post (via Sactown Royalty).
“He’s 21. What was I doing at 21? I was in college with a demanding coach,” said Sacramento coach Keith Smart, who took over for Westphal. Smart played for Bobby Knight at the University of Indiana. “A lot of things that happened at 21 for me got corrected while I was in college. He has to do this in front of all the media and all the world in front of a pressured environment.”
In the world of problems, Cousins is not that big of one — he clashes with coaches but he’s not out getting arrested or in serious off-the court trouble. He works hard on the court — only Kevin Love has grabbed more offensive rebounds than him this season, he is third best on the list of percentage of rebounds grabbed when he is on the floor (only Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum grab a higher percentage of missed shots). Of course, he also leads the league in personal fouls and is 15th in turnovers despite not being a guard.
Smart sees his job as having to help Cousins mature, as Knight helped him mature. Tall order. But if he can do it, the Kings could be set in the middle for a decade with one of the best bigs in the league.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.
Bill Bridges, a star as a Kansas Jayhawk who went on to have a 12-year NBA career that included being part of the 1975 Golden State Warriors championship team, has passed away, according to the University of Kansas.
Bridges was an undersized power forward at 6’6″ but he was a beast on the boards who averaged 11.9 rebounds a game for his career and more than 13 a game for six straight years at the peak of his career. That 11.9 per game average is still 27th all-time in NBA history.
A New Mexico native, Bridges was a three-time All-Star (all as a member of the Hawks), two-time All-NBA Defensive team, and was part of the 1975 Warriors title team. Besides the Hawks (St. Louis and Atlanta) and Warriors, Bridges played for the Sixers and Lakers.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.