Is DeMarcus Cousins the big man Team USA can lean on?
LAS VEGAS — Team USA is going to go small this summer.
In the final scrimmage on Monday they ran a lineup with Kevin Durant as the four and Anthony Davis as the center, and that likely will be your starters when the USA gets to Spain for the World Cup. On the other side of that same scrimmage Chandler Parsons played power forward with Paul Millsap getting a shot at center. Small ball.
But the USA needs some real size because Spain — the runner up to the USA the last two Olympics, and a team that starts Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol up front — is looming. The question is who will be that other big man?
In the limited action the media saw from Day 1 of Team USA training camp, DeMarcus Cousins looked like the next best big man.
The Sacramento center had a nice chemistry with Kyrie Irving on the pick-and-roll getting a couple buckets diving toward the rim. Cousins was making more plays on the defensive end where he blocked a Paul George jumper and shut down James Harden driving the lane. Team USA needs active bigs in their system and Cousins was that.
“I believe what (coach Mike Krzyzewski) wants from me is to be a physical specimen, be a defensive anchor, control the paint. Be a dominant force in there….” Cousins said, adding it’s an adjustment to jump into playing 5-on-5 at this level in the middle of summer. “Everything happened so fast out there I don’t know who made what pass, we’re just playing basketball.”
Of course, the question with Cousins has never been talent. It’s the mentality side — international basketball allows far more physicality than the NBA game and Cousins can pick up fouls and technicals out of frustration trying to deal with those calls (or lack of them). Team USA doesn’t have room for that.
While Cousins looked good Andre Drummond was making plays too and if he can keep his head about him while Cousins can’t the choice is easy.
Has Cousins matured enough to make the Team USA roster for Spain? If he has he’s the best man for the job. If not, Coach K will move on quickly.
As always with Cousins, it all comes back to his attitude and maturity. But so far he has looked like a guy Team USA can count on.