DeMarcus Cousins will force Warriors to make drastic changes on defense


DeMarcus Cousins will force Warriors to make drastic changes on defense

OAKLAND – When describing the role and expectations for DeMarcus Cousins as a Warrior, Steve Kerr chooses his words carefully, not so much about Cousins on offense but certainly in regards to the big man’s defensive responsibilities.

“We’ll be much better suited to guard some of the big, huge centers,” the coach says. “Guys like (Oklahoma City center) Steven Adams and (Utah’s) Rudy Gobert, (Portland’s Jusuf) Nurkic. We’ve been pretty small against those guys and that pose a big threat.

“The flip side of that is (Cousins has to) guard the perimeter. We’ll have to play around defensively to figure out how we want to guard the pick-and-roll.”

The term “play around” is, in this instance, a euphemism for “make adjustments.” It’s something the Warriors must do. And those adjustments will have to be substantial.

In winning back-to-back championships, the Warriors utilized a switch-heavy defense, with defenders relying less on fighting through picks and more on simply attaching themselves to whomever comes their way. It has been tremendously successful largely because their roster has been versatile enough to make it work.

The ability to switch and do a decent job defending the perimeter has inflated the value of Kevon Looney. It was a contributing factor in Kerr’s decision to bump up Jordan Bell’s playing time in the last two series of the 2018 postseason.

It’s why JaVale McGee played a total of three minutes in the Western Conference Finals, which went seven games, why David West’s minutes were reduced by half in the final two rounds last postseason and why Zaza Pachulia played a total of 25 minutes in 21 postseason games.

Can’t switch, can’t play.

At 6-foot-11, 270 pounds, Cousins’ physical profile is more West-Pachulia than Looney-Bell-McGee. Though Boogie possesses fabulous offensive gifts, pretty much the full package, asking him and his surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon to switch onto James Harden 30 feet from the basket invites foul trouble or getting cooked.

“He’s not a runner. He’s not a sprinter,” Kerr said of Cousins. “So that will be a little different. We’ve played at a pretty high pace here over the years. I imagine he’ll be in a trail position on the break at times, which could be pretty good, especially considering the shooter that he is from the top of the key area.”

[ASK KERITH: How DeMarcus Cousins might fill Warriors' center need]

So there is roughly zero chance Cousins will be put in such a compromising position on defense. The Warriors, no matter what Kerr says or how he says it, won’t do it.

Listening to the whispers around the Warriors the past two weeks, the suspicion is that Cousins’ dramatic improvement in recent scrimmages was mostly because he increased his defensive intensity.

“Steve was looking for a certain thing, on the coach’s side of things,” Cousins says. “But for me, it was kind of the same thing every day. So it was hard to find that point where I could just break through and actually do what he was looking for. That’s more on the coaching side of things.”

When Cousins signed with the Warriors last summer, he aligned himself with a coaching staff unafraid to demand effort on defense. Moreover, any lack of effort will be called out by his new teammates. Though Cousins is good friends with Draymond Green, don’t think Draymond won’t blister him for loafing on defense. Loafing is not how the Warriors have won championships.

[RELATED: How DeMarcus Cousins in Warriors' lineup will affect Draymond Green's game]

So how do the Warriors play it with Cousins on defense? They’ll have to turn back the clock to Kerr’s first two seasons, when Andrew Bogut was in the middle. Though Bogut earned his money on defense and Cousins earns his mostly on offense, the physical profiles are similar.

As good as Bogut was on defense, he had no business trying to defend a guard on the perimeter. So he hung back as a rim protector while his teammates either switched or dropped.

“We’ve always had a format here, although we changed a little bit after Andrew Bogut left,” Kerr says. “We had a different philosophy the first couple years.

“But the last couple years, we’ve been a switch team and we have to figure out, ‘Is that the way to go?’ Or do we employ different schemes? And we’ve talked about that. We’ll work on everything and come up with the best plan.”:

Switching is ideal with the “Death Lineup,” which features three players are similar length. Though Green is the center in that lineup, it’s the guard or wing that is in trouble when he switches out to the perimeter.

Switching is not ideal with the Boogie Lineup. The Warriors know that. Cousins knows. His teammates know. So look for a more conventional defense. It’s the surest way for Cousins to stay on the floor in the postseason.

If the Warriors want Boogie’s offense, they’ll have to accept his defense. They’ll have to adjust. I suspect they already are.

Why Mike Brown feels like he played role in Klay Thompson's huge game

Why Mike Brown feels like he played role in Klay Thompson's huge game

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Klay Thompson finally had a big game on Sunday.

After scoring just 12, 17 and 12 points in the first three games against the Clippers, the five-time All-Star registered 32 points in Game 4.

Did he do anything different on Friday or Saturday in Los Angeles that contributed to his breakout performance?

“I did a couple things ... I told Jonas (Jerebko) yesterday when we went to the beach and played some volleyball, I'm like, 'Yo I’m just gonna go jump in the ocean. I know that will reset my mind.’ And it worked," Klay told reporters after the Warriors' 113-105 win. "I don't know if I'm gonna jump (in) up north, because it's freezing.

"But it's something I'll definitely contemplate if I don't shoot the ball the rest of the year."

On Monday morning, Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown explained how he could have been there with Klay and Jerebko but ultimately declined the invitation.

“I actually took an Uber after that practice back to the hotel with Klay and Jonas and they were both going to the beach together,” Brown said on 95.7 The Game. “They asked me if I wanted to go and at first I said, ‘Yes.’

“But then I realized my swell figure -- it wouldn’t quite look as nice as theirs. So, I was like, ‘You know what? How about y’all go to the beach by yourselves and I'll go another time with y’all, after I get in that gym a little bit.'

"I didn't go with them, but I feel like I'm part of this 32-point performance because Klay did say he needed some tunes while he was at the beach. And so I said, 'OK, Klay. Here, you can use my Beats Pill.' So I let him use my Beats Pill.

"He tried to keep it but I confronted him when we got off the plane last night and he knew what to do as a young man (against) my grown man strength."

[RELATEDBogut gives interesting response to Embiid's 3-1 Dubs joke]

There are so many amazing components to this tale that it's hard to pick a favorite.

The weather is going to be beautiful in the Bay Area the next couple of days, so hopefully we learn about another legendary Klay story after Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Andrew Bogut's interesting response to Joel Embiid's 3-1 Warriors joke

Andrew Bogut's interesting response to Joel Embiid's 3-1 Warriors joke

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

On Saturday, 76ers center Joel Embiid racked up 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, six blocks and two steals in Philly's Game 4 win at the Nets.

After the victory, he delivered a fantastic joke while speaking to the media at the podium:

The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals and the basketball world will clearly never forget.

Andrew Bogut -- who hurt his knee in Game 5 of that infamous series and missed Games 6 and 7 -- responded to Embiid in a column he wrote for Yahoo Sport Australia:

Joel Embiid saying the 76ers don’t want to do what we did in the 2016 Finals is just Joel being Joel – he’s a bit of a larrikin.

But they have to get to a Finals series first before they can even think about doing that.

It’s been a funny talking point for a lot of people in the league.

But we haven’t taken any notice of it and it’s not something that’s been mentioned in the locker room.

You are probably asking yourself what "larrikin" means.

The definition, according to the Oxford Modern Australian Dictionary: "A mischievous young person, an uncultivated, rowdy but good hearted person", or "a person who acts with apparent disregard for social or political conventions."

[RELATED: Watch Draymond dominate Clips with incredible rim protection]

Turn up the heat!

Embiid talks a lot of trash, is a must-follow on social media and is all about having fun.

At this point, the world kind of deserves a Warriors-76ers matchup in the NBA Finals so we can watch Bogut and Embiid battle it out.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram