Donning the Trail Blazers’ "Health and Performance Flex’" medal in honor of winning Wednesday’s practice for the best performance of the day, Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter sat down for his interview with the media.
Flexing is just what Kanter is going to need to do against a re-emerging DeMarcus Cousins.
While showing off the award, Kanter smiled when asked about facing Cousins and the load that he brings.
It’s certainly been a long road for Cousins, but in his most recent performances, it looks like the old Boogie is making a return.
Witnessing that makes Kanter happy for the 10-year veteran, but also ready for the challenge.
Portland will face Cousins and the Rockets in the first of six games on the road.
In 13 contests played this season, Cousins is averaging 8.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists.
But it’s his last two games that have really stood out and make one beg the question:
Is the old Boogie back?
Kanter believes Cousins has shown that and more.
Last Saturday in Houston’s win over Dallas, Cousins was certainly attacking. He had his best NBA performance in nearly three years.
He led the charge along with Eric Gordon in Houston’s 133-108 victory over the Mavericks with 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting including 4of-8 from three to go along with 17 rebounds.
It was his best game since April of 2019 when Cousins notched a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds while with the Warriors.
The four-time All-Star followed up Saturday's performance with 19 points and 11 rebounds in Houston’s win over Washington Tuesday night, which were complete turnaround games after only hitting 2-for-16 in last Friday's game against the Pistons.
But, it’s a process.
And it has been a long one for Cousins over the past few years.
It was on January 26, 2018 when he tore his Achilles.
During his All-Star days, he was a double-double machine of around 25 points and 12 rebounds per game, but after the Achilles injury, more and more injuries piled up including a torn quadriceps muscle and a torn ACL.
And, of course, they changed Cousins’ career forever.
But now he’s found a home in Houston while on the mend.
It's a home that Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts believes is a good fit for the 30-year-old.
Last Saturday marked Cousins’ first back-to-back night since January of 2018.
But Portland knows it could have its hands full with the big man especially with so many injuries of their own.
“He’s obviously a very talented player,” Stotts said following Wednesday’s practice. “He’s shown that over the years. He can play inside and outside. I think he is moving well. He’s being aggressive offensively. He’s shooting threes, he’s taking the ball to the basket and I think he compliments their team really well.”
Kanter emphasized that slowing down a guy like Cousins, who can easily get on a roll offensively, will be by committee.
“It’s going to be on all of us to stop a guy like that, and obviously, he is more playing like himself now before he got injured and I’m happy for him,” Kanter added.