Over the summer, DeMarcus Cousins’ maturity and work ethic were constantly under fire by the media, being labeled a head case even before he was drafted.
Yes, it’s true that the 6'11'' 270-pound center did have some problems while attending high school in Alabama and showed some immaturity while at Kentucky, but he can‘t be held responsible in the NBA for something that‘s happened in the past.
It’s funny that a 20-year-old rookie who hasn’t played one game gets treated like he's the next Ron Artest or Derrick Coleman. He hasn’t played a preseason game, was stellar in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 14.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, and earned Rookie of the Month honors.
At media day and after the first session of training camp, the Cousins I’ve seen and heard has shown a willingness to learn and a seriousness for the game of basketball.
"I just came in and just try to soak up as much as possible," Cousins said after the morning session on the first day of training camp. "I was all ears. I wanted to make sure I learned everything, so I could be on my 'Ps' and 'Qs' when it's time to play."
Cousins may be goofy off the court, but he has his game face on when it’s time to play. During a summer league game on July 14, he was jawing with Minnesota Timberwolves center Greg Stiemsma. Rather than let his emotions get the best of him, Cousins channeled that anger and turned it into production on the court, finishing with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals and the game-winning jump hook.
"He (Timberwolves assistant coach Reggie Theus) was like 'We got into his head,'" Cousins said to the Sacramento Bee after the game. "I was like thank you coach, I'm going to kill you this half. And after the game I was like told you I was going to kill you this half. That's all that was."
He showcased a variety of skills: scoring in the post, from the perimeter rebounding, defending, passing and running the floor. Ironically, the Timberwolves passed on Cousins in favor of Wesley Johnson, a move they may regret.
Cousins has already taken the time to learn from a proven veteran in Samuel Dalembert, a defensive center who was acquired by the Kings over the summer. "Sam is a great teacher," he said. "Sam's been talking to me the whole time. Him being on the team, I know that's going to help me out a lot. He's an incredible defender.”