From Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee:
Mention some of DeMarcus Cousins’ less-than-flattering statistics from last season and you won’t hear any excuses for them.Cousins doesn’t blame his teammates’ inability to catch passes for averaging 3.3 turnovers, ninth-most in the NBA. Nor is there complaining about officiating as a reason Cousins led the NBA with an average of 4.1 fouls per game.Then there’s the 43-percent shooting from the field, especially bad for a 6-foot-11 center. Cousins begins his second season tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers with plans to improve all those numbers…
Cousins showed that he has all-star talent last season, but his penchant for settling for outside jumpers and throwing errant passes was his downfall. According to 82games.com, 61% of Cousins’ shots were jumpers last season, and he only made 33% of those jumpers. Cousins is also one of the most gifted post passers in the league, but he tried to force passes that weren’t there last season, which was a big part of the reason he turned the ball over so much.
Every rookie goes through growing pains in the NBA, especially rookies that come into the league after only one year of college, and those growing pains generally manifest themselves in bad shots and turnovers. Cousins, like every 2nd-year player, will have to make adjustments to be effective at the NBA level — Cousins’ adjustments will just have to be a lot more drastic than most players’. Fortunately for Kings fans, Cousins as much pure size and talent as any young big man in the league, so he has the ability to right the ship and become an effective NBA player. In the article, Cousins said that he will “have to play a lot smarter” this season; tonight, he’ll get his first chance to back those words up with on-court decisions.
The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.
He missed more than five weeks.
Maybe he should have sat even longer.
Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:
Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.
Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.
Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.
There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.
What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?
The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.
The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.
Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.
With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.
He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.
The Lakers have had a rough season.
Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.
The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.
The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.
Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.
He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.
Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.