DeMarcus Cousins’ debut means Warriors will face 10 crucial questions

DeMarcus Cousins’ debut means Warriors will face 10 crucial questions

OAKLAND — The months of waiting dissolved into weeks, and then to a matter of days. And now it’s down to the final hours.

The Warriors will unveil their newest shiny toy Friday. DeMarcus Cousins, after nearly a year of physical therapy, will put on jersey No. 0 and walk onto the court with his new teammates for the very first time.

The addition of Cousins gives the Warriors five legitimate All-Stars, one at each position, every one of them with multiple skills. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at guard, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green at forward and Cousins at center, it’s about as perfect a quintet as can be assembled in today’s NBA.

With Cousins entering at a time when the Warriors appear to be hitting their stride, curiosity and intrigue are extremely high. How effective can Cousins be coming off such a serious injury? How good can this team be?

Here, we try to answer some of the pertinent questions relating to Cousins being activated by the back-to-back defending NBA champions.

Does medical clearance mean he’s 100 percent?

No. Cousins feels good. He has passed all required tests. His ruptured left Achilles tendon has healed. But his rehab continues, only now during live activity.

Being cleared to play doesn’t mean he’s ready to put up 25 and 15 against the Clippers on Friday. It just means he’s able to play.

What is a reasonable expectation for the next few games?

As with anyone who has been away for nearly a year, there will be times when Cousins looks good and plenty of moments when he does not. He will be challenged -- particularly on defense -- and there will be some failure.

It shouldn’t take long for his shot to line up, or his passes to make life easier on his teammates. It will be weeks before he finds rhythm, months before he’s fully in tune with his body and his team.

What kind of production can be expected in the first few games?

Cousins says he understands he won’t get as many shots as he did in Sacramento or New Orleans. He also says he’s cool with it, that he knew that when he signed with the Warriors.

He will grab rebounds. He might not block many shots. He will have room to work on the offensive end, though, so don’t be surprised if he scores close to a point per minute and grabs a rebound every two or three minutes.

[RELATED: Pelicans know firsthand what Boogie will mean to Warriors]

How many minutes will he play?

Gleaning information from several team sources, the initial plan is for Cousins to start games but be restricted to 12 to 16 minutes. He’s not likely to play more than five consecutive minutes. It’s conceivable those minutes could be spread over three or four quarters.

As his conditioning improves, his minutes will rise. He’s not likely to play more than about 25 minutes per game.

How is his attitude?

Cousins has been having a good time. He has been engaged, enjoying his teammates and serving as an eager tutor, passing along tricks of the trade to youngsters Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell. Jokes are flying both ways.

Still to be determined is how Cousins conducts himself in the heat of competition. There is no reason to anticipate friction, but there will be technical fouls, because Boogie is going to do Boogie.

Will he be able to get back on defense?

Sometimes, yes. There were times during intrasquad scrimmages when, according to witnesses, he did not. At the urging of teammates and coaches, he got better at it.

There will be times, particularly in the first few games, when he won’t or can’t get back. And when that happens, he will be subbed out. He knows it. Failing to get back on defense is a quick ticket to the bench.

[RELATED: Boogie considers Warriors "the most hated team in sports"]

Will he make the game easier for his new teammates?

Yes. That will be apparent early and become more so as he acclimates to his surroundings. The last pure center on the Warriors’ roster with such an offensive arsenal? Wilt Chamberlain.

Cousins is a threat in the paint or the perimeter. If teams double-team him, he’ll burn them by zipping passes to the team’s buffet of shooters.

Which teammate most benefits from Cousins’ presence?

That’s a tie between Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

Green stands to benefit because he won’t have to battle opposing behemoths nearly as much. Thompson, with his constant off-the-ball movement, will have one more passer looking for him.

What about Cousins might pleasantly surprise Warriors fans?

Best guess here is his passing ability. It’s well above average, and the aspect that will fit in most seamlessly with his teammates, who are willing and creative passers.

Cousins’ former coach in New Orleans, Alvin Gentry, compares him to Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic, who is considered top passing big in the league. Four days before he was injured last January, Cousins posted a 44-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

That’s not happening soon, but don’t be surprised if he has games with half those totals.

What might disappoint Warriors fans?

That would be his debut and his vertical leap. Cousins never was a high flyer, and the injury surely will rob him of a few inches. He might get them back, eventually.

The Warriors, however, are tempering expectations because it’s prudent and realistic. Cousins might not wow anybody for weeks. There is every reason to believe his debut game will have some ugly moments.

Kevin Durant, New York City 'match made not in heaven,' Michael Wilbon says

Kevin Durant, New York City 'match made not in heaven,' Michael Wilbon says

Kevin Durant has had a prickly relationship with the media this season.

But if the Warriors superstar thinks this is bad, he should probably scratch the New York Knicks off his free agency list.

The New York media is ruthless, and that's something the two-time NBA Finals MVP may not be able to handle if he joins the Knicks.

ESPN's Michael Wilbon doesn't see Durant fitting in Gotham.

"I think Kevin Durant and New York City are a match made not in heaven," Wilbon said on First Take on Friday morning. "It's OK, Kevin is a fairly thin-skinned guy. You can be that. But do you function best in New York? Look, Kyrie [Irving] grew up in metropolitan New York, he understands the mood, the tenor, the volume. I mean, Kevin, that's not his thing from my observation."

The popular rumor over the last few months has Durant and Irving declining their player options with their respective teams and joining forces on the Knicks.

[RELATED: Players believe KD will go to Knicks]

In a recent interview with the New York Post, Knicks president Steve Mills sounded pretty confident that his team will have a big offseason.

We tend to agree with Wilbon on this one, though. Based on what we've seen in the last few months, Durant doesn't seem suited for New York. If the Knicks lose games early in his tenure, the media and talk shows will crush him. If he doesn't bring a title to The Big Apple, they won't let him live it down.

Stay right where you are, KD. In more ways than one, you've got it pretty good in the Bay Area.

Watch Andrew Bogut do little bit of everything for Warriors in Game 3 win

Watch Andrew Bogut do little bit of everything for Warriors in Game 3 win

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Sunday morning at 11, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Andrew Bogut had a great game Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Scratch that: Andrew Bogut had a terrific game.

In the Warriors' 132-105 win over the Clippers in Game 3 of their NBA playoff series, the 34-year old recorded eight points, 14 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block. In 25 minutes, he was plus-24.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft was instrumental in getting Kevin Durant off to a hot start:

Bogut led the Dubs with four "screen assists," according to NBA.com.

The 2015 All-Defensive selection also made a signifcant impact on the defensive end:

Klay Thompson was cold to start the game. He missed his first four shots.

[RELATEDWhy Iguodala hopes Looney leaves Warriors in free agency]

Bogut helped change that, though, a couple minutes into the second quarter:

After practice Wednesday, coach Steve Kerr said the Warriors are lucky to have Bogut. On Thursday, you saw exactly why.

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