It’s hard to believe, but DeMarcus Cousins, 24, is in his fifth NBA season. But if he could go back and give 21-year-old DeMarcus some advice, he would.
“Be patient,” the Kings center said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Back then, I wanted the recognition. I wanted the credit, and it just wasn’t that time. So I would tell myself to be patient.”
If Cousins seems more mature these days, that’s because he is. He played for dominant teams in high school, and he played for a dominant Kentucky Wildcats team that reached the Elite Eight in 2010.
His time in Sacramento, however, has been a different story. Cousins has put up good numbers – like the 22.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 blocks he averaged last season – but he’s never made the playoffs.
What has it been like to go from playing on teams that win a lot to teams that, well, don’t?
“It’s a tough thing to deal with,” Cousins said, “but the thing is, you learn from those losses. It helps you become a better player. It helps you become a better teammate. You know how to play through adversity when it hits you because that’s something you’ve been through a lot. It kind of helps you in the end, but (you basically have) to stay with a strong mind and keep pushing forward.”
Cousins benefitted a great deal from playing for Team USA this summer – in part because it taught him the importance of role players.
“The biggest thing I took from that was learning how to sacrifice for your team,” he said. “Of course we played with a talented group of guys – high-level players on their respective teams. So everybody didn’t play the way they were used to playing, but you had to play a certain part to enable the team to be successful. You had to do a lot of small things, and that resulted in the win. So with that being said, I took that back to my team. But at the same time, I respected the guys on my team for being in that position. I know what they go through now and I earned a new respect for them – because they don’t get the credit for it. But they mean a lot more to the team than people really realize.”
Darren Collison, who played a pivotal role for the Clippers last season, is a prime example. He served mostly as a backup for Chris Paul but also started 35 games, averaging 11.4 points and 3.7 assists. Now with Sacramento, Collison is averaging career highs in points (15.5) and assists (6.5), while the Clippers are off to a bit of a slow start (6-4).
“I can’t really speak for the Clippers and their situation,” Cousins said, “but I can tell you about Darren. He’s an incredible player. He’s a great addition to our team and he’s helped take this team to another level.”
Doug Gotltieb then asked Cousins the million-dollar question: Could this year’s Kentucky team – which destroyed No. 5 Kansas, 72-40, on Tuesday – beat the 0-11 Sixers?
“I think I’m going to roll with Kentucky on this one,” Cousins said. “That’s a talented group they got there.”