Lucky No. 7: DeMarcus Cousins

There has been a lot written about DeMarcus Cousins, what with his stated desire to be drafted by the Pistons, fans clamoring for GM Joe Dumars to trade up to secure the rights to the towering Kentucky center to fill the team’s most glaring weakness, and his volatile stock that hinges on whether pundits believe he is a bad apple that could ruin a team or just an immature 19-year-old that can be molded so his demeanor matches his immense talents.

And the talents have never been in doubt. The scouting reports all say the same thing. Read them here, here, here, here or here. Great offensive game; beast on the boards; wide, NBA-ready body. Skills are there, head might not be. It’s the same thing everywhere your look.

In fact, I’ve started, scrapped and restarted a draft profile on Cousins a few times already. But every time I run into the same stumbling block — if the talent is unquestioned, then the only thing that would prevent someone from selecting the standout center is a personal impression of his attitude, work ethic, coachability, etc. All quantities that I don’t have access to from watching game film or looking at his stats. Sure, he might look surly on the court, but sometimes the camera lies. You can’t look into his heart unless you have an opportunity to sit down and talk to him. Not for five minutes, but for hours upon hours.

Sure, I could pretend that I KNOW Cousins, just like the many other armchair GMs and pundits on the radio airwaves, the TV talking heads and alll those writing on the vast series of tubes that is the Internets. But I’d rather admit my shortcomings and say … I DON’T KNOW.

Of course, I’m not the one that has to know. That is the job of GMs throughout the league and if they’re right, then they are either going to dodge a bullet or grab a franchise player. So all I can really do is decide if I have faith in Dumars to make the right call. And really, the one thing that is unquestioned about Dumars is that he always selects players he think fit the mold, guys that have “Pistons DNA.” And the results (aside from a certain will he or won’t he flee to Europe Serbian) are pretty conclusive over the past eight years — Dumars doesn’t always find the most talent player available, but he gets guys that fit into the team concept and are upstanding individuals. Billups. Hamilton, Wallace, Prince, Maxiell, Stuckey, Jerebko, etc. They’ve got it.

And although Rasheed Wallace probably overstayed his welcome, Dumars brought him onto the team and his coaches and teammates were able to channel his passion, desire and volatility. They contained his combustible personality within a strong-willed bunch that were able to feed off of it and each other and win an NBA championship.

So if Dumars has the chance to grab Cousins and says yes, I have no reason to doubt that the big man will mature into a true blue Pistons and utilize his great size, footwork, hands and quickness to dominate on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. And if Dumars says, thanks but no thanks, I guess I’ll trust his judgement that Cousins just isn’t a risk worth taking.

I am personally hoping that the reports that the Pistons are enamored by him are true, because I trust that if all the supposed red flags were legit, then Joe D. would be a man that could spot them for himself and move on to another player. So if Dumars trusts Cousins, then I trust Cousins, because I trust Joe D.

Now make a damn trade for him already!

Tags: Demarcus Cousins Joe Dumars NBA Draft

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  • Travis

    Sean, I recall a player that amazed GM’s with his pre-draft workouts, had a high ceiling, was called the next Dirk Nowitzki, but had immaturity issues, later moped and whined, and eventually was declared a bust. I won’t hold anything against the Pistons if Cousins becomes an All-Star for another team, but I will hold it against them if he becomes a bust.

  • Sean

    Maybe it is just revisionist history on my part, but Darko did not have any sort of baggage regarding his heart, toughness, attitude, etc. People might have wondered about migrating from Eruope to the U.S. as an 18-year-old, but he was known as a gym rat (a popular tag placed on most eruo players at the time), with a mean streak and great, raw skills. It wasn’t until he was drafted did he expose himself as an entitled, heartless moper. I think you’re comparing apples and oranges.

  • Travis

    Sean, I’ll make this a bit simpler. Had the fans known more about Darko Milicic’s immaturity issues, would you draft Darko?

    • Sean

      But that just proves the point I was making. Do you KNOW DeMarcus Cousins’ maturity level, or do you just think you know because of various media reports? I am saying that Pistons fans can’t make a qualitative decision about Cousins’ character issues, because fans don’t have enough information at their disposal. But teams do, and you either trust your team will make the right call or you don’t. Despite the Darko debacle, I think Dumars will make the right call.