On Monday, top NBA forward prospects DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors both worked out for the New Jersey Nets, who hold the 3rd overall pick in the upcoming draft. Since John Wall and Evan Turner are virtual locks to go 1st and 2nd in the draft, the Nets’ selection may have more suspense surrounding it that any other pick.
If the Nets are indeed trying to decide between Cousins and Favors, the dilemma is a familiar one come NBA Draft time: Cousins is the more polished product, particularly on offense, while Favors is the better athlete and can make more of an impact without the ball in his hands. (Cousins’ “character flags” add another dimension to New Jersey’s dilemma.)
According to ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan, Cousins was able to impress those assembled at the workout by unveiling his outside shot, which he rarely used during his time at Kentucky. Nets president Abe Polinsky was reportedly impressed by how comfortable Cousins looked shooting the ball out to 20 feet; with Brook Lopez on the roster, the Nets could very much use a 4 who can stretch the floor and give Lopez room to operate down low.
If his mid-range shot is as good as advertised, Cousins could turn into a better version of Zach Randolph on his best days offensively; a low-post scorer with the ability to step out who uses his strength and touch to make up for a relative lack of explosiveness. However, Cousins reportedly weighed in at 289 pounds. With power forwards getting more agile, athletic, and perimeter-oriented by the year (before you call Pau Gasol a traditional banger, think of how he runs the floor), can a 289-pound man be reasonably expected to keep up with opposing fours on a nightly basis?
Both Cousins and Favors come with real risks attached to them. There’s a real chance Favors will never become a quality offensive player, and an equally real chance that Cousins will never become a reliable NBA defender. If the Nets do end up choosing between Cousins and Favors, their decision may come down to which risk they’re more comfortable taking.