DeMarcus Cousins will make his Golden State Warriors debut on Friday. Our NBA.com staff discussed what we are most intrigued to see in his first game with the defending two-time NBA Champions.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I'm excited to see how well he plays off the team's other star players.
In his last three games with the New Orleans Pelicans (including the one in which he sustained his devastating injury), Cousins averaged 25.0 points, 16.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game - all while connecting on nearly 39 percent of his six 3-point attempts per game.
It was fair to say he was just starting to get the hang of the whole playing alongside Anthony Davis thing.
Fast forward a year later, and Cousins gets to share the floor with two of the league's top five players in addition to two more elite talents. While rust will certainly be a factor, it's an exciting prospect to think about how great of an impact taking the floor with those guys will be; teams can't guard Cousins like they once did and he'll find himself in advantageous situations because of the respect owed to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and the ways Draymond Green can set him up.
Cousins' return should be impressive because the players around him will elevate his game and minimize the rust.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Will Cousins be a part of Golden State's clutch-time lineup? And if so, is this ultimately the end of the "Death Lineup"?
For years, we've grown accustomed to the Warriors going small when it matters the most with Andre Iguodala joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
With Cousins now in the fold, one would think there's six players for five spots assuming everyone is healthy. You have to think that Curry, Durant and Thompson are locks no matter the opponent. Does Boogie watch the end of games from the bench? Does he take Iguodala's spot? Is Green too much of an offensive liability?
It's an answer we probably won't know for sure until the postseason as Steve Kerr will likely tinker and experiment with various looks until then.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm looking forward to the Warriors' shot distribution.
Right now it's as even and sensible as can be among their top three scorers. Stephen Curry leads the team in scoring (29.5 ppg) and field goal attempts per game (20.1 FGA), followed by Kevin Durant (28.2 ppg, 19.1 FGA) and Klay Thompson (21.9 ppg, 18.8 FGA).
Their next leading scorer? Quinn Cook with 7.9 points per game on 6.6 shots. Next in line for field goal attempts per game? Draymond Green with 6.7 attempts for 6.9 points.
As you can see, their three elite scorers handle the bulk of the work on the offensive end and it's been successful enough for back-to-back championships and first place in the West to date. Now you add player like Boogie, who is ball dominant and averages 21.5 points on 16.7 field goal attempts for his career.
Last season those numbers were up to 18.0 field goal attempts good for 25.2 points per game. He'll likely be in a different role in this system, but it'll be worth monitoring how/if his touches and shot attempts take away from the Warriors' offensive Big 3.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I'm on the same page as Gil and Kyle - I'm most excited to see how Cousins fits in with Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green.
On paper, the addition of Cousins gives the Warriors the most dominant five-man lineup in the league. He's one of the NBA's more talented big men when healthy, and he complements Golden State's All-Star core well as a shooter, roller and passer.
Cousins even gives them an answer to Houston's switch-everything scheme that gave them trouble in last season's playoffs, as he has the tools to punish the likes of Chris Paul and Eric Gordon on switches in ways Durant couldn't. Durant is an incredibly efficient scorer with his back to the basket, but Cousins is a more physical post player who consistently ranks near the top of the league in fouls drawn.
There is, however, a possibility that it doesn't work out as planned. Beyond the significant injury that he's coming back from, Cousins is a high usage player who turns the ball over at a high rate.
The combination could be what holds them back from reaching their full potential, although I'm of the train of thought that it won't.