Warriors

How DeMarcus Cousins will help Warriors in these three specific areas

How DeMarcus Cousins will help Warriors in these three specific areas

On Friday night, DeMarcus Cousins will play in his first NBA game since he tore his left Achilles tendon on Jan. 26, 2018. The whole basketball world will be watching as he makes his Warriors debut.

But one thing you shouldn't do is set lofty expectations, as it's going to take him time to find his rhythm and comfort zone.

As you keep your eye on Boogie's every move, pay close attention to how he is performing in the following three areas:

PASSING

Over his first six seasons, Cousins averaged just 2.7 assists per game. But in 2016-17, he dished out 4.6. And last year, he racked up a career-high 5.4 assists per contest.

The night his season came to an end, he recorded a season-high 11 assists in fewer than 30 minutes. He is more than willing to be a facilitator and is now surrounded by more talent than ever.

The Warriors cut off the ball a lot so even if he isn't double teamed, the four-time All-Star should be able to find teammates for layups or open jumpers left and right.

3-POINT SHOOTING

In the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors have never really had a big man like Cousins who can step out and consistently knock down 3-pointers. Then again, the NBA hasn't seen many big men like Cousins, period.

Cousins attempted just 69 3-pointers combined over his first five seasons in the league. But that all changed in 2015-16 when he jacked up 210 triples.

In 2016-17, he went 131-for-363 behind the arc (36.1 percent), and in 48 games last year he went 104-for-294 (35.4 percent). Steve Kerr recently said that the Warriors aren't going to slow down their pace for Cousins, which means a lot of his 3-point attempts will probably come with him trailing the play in transition. 

His defender has to respect his ability to space the floor, so Cousins' presence is going to open things up for his teammates.

[RELATEDDeMarcus Cousins' NBA return comes right as Warriors stars catch fire]

DEFENDING PERIMETER PLAYERS 

The biggest challenge facing Cousins will be containing guards and wings. Teams are going to try to isolate him in 1-on-1 situations (we are looking at you, James Harden) and test Boogie's ability to slide his feet.

When engaged, the two-time All-NBA selection has shown he's capable of being a very good defender. Last year, he tied his career high with 1.6 steals a game and also averaged 1.6 blocks (his career high is 1.7).

How much will his lateral quickness be impacted by the Achilles tear? We are going to find out very soon.

Be sure to watch the video above to see examples of everything we just discussed.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

What Warriors' Ron Adams believes is Alen Smailagic's best current skill

What Warriors' Ron Adams believes is Alen Smailagic's best current skill

During Alen Smailagic's rookie season with the Warriors, he showed flashes as to why Golden State traded two future second-round draft picks (2021 and 2023) to acquire him.

The No. 39 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft averaged 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game over 14 appearances.

"His best skill right now -- for a young guy, he's not afraid of the game," Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic last week. "He comes into the game and he's turned on. He makes some good plays.

"That was noticeable this year. His confidence, his savvy, whatever you want to call it. It was pretty impressive."

The 19-year-old has the utmost belief in himself, and doesn't shy away from the bright lights.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Smailagic believes he already belongs and can have a big impact on the game.

This is an important mindset to possess as it can help when things aren't going your way. And the reality is that Smailagic is far from a finished product.

"He has a ways to go," Adams said. "I think he made great strides this year. He would get in the game and the only thing he thought about was how (he was) going to get the ball into the hoop (laughter). He was just really intent on that. 

"He began to understand the game in a different way. He began to understand the game the way Steve (Kerr) likes the game to be played. I thought he improved defensively."

[RELATED: Draymond has eager student in Warriors rookie Smailagic]

It's possible that the 6-foot-10 Serbian is a consistent rotation player next season. The Warriors would be ecstatic if that comes to fruition.

But he might not have a significant role, and he could end up spending a decent amount of time in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors.

That is all to-be-determined.

"He's a young developing player," Adams said. "And when that's the case, you can never be surprised when things happen more quickly than you think they should in terms of development, and you can't be disappointed when they don't."

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How latest reported NBA schedule timeline could affect Warriors, draft

How latest reported NBA schedule timeline could affect Warriors, draft

The Warriors know they practically are guaranteed to land a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Yet they still don't know when the draft -- originally scheduled for June 25 -- actually will take place.

But the latest intel from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is helping us narrow down the date.

The draft typically falls on the first Thursday after the scheduled date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals. So if we assume the league maintains that format, the Warriors could be making their selections on Oct. 15.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

To reiterate, we are making an assumption here and it's possible the NBA doesn't follow its normal protocol during these very uncertain times. 

But as Woj writes:

The expectation is that the NBA draft and the opening of free agency would follow in sequential order in October, sources said.

[RELATED: Oturu could be what Warriors wanted out of Bell in NBA draft]

If we apply the same logic for the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery -- which was slated for May 19 -- you can expect it to be held in mid-September.

We might know all of the specifics as early as Thursday because that's when the NBA's Board of Governors is expected to vote on the NBA's return-to-play proposal.

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