Los Angeles Clippers

DeMarcus Cousins impresses in Clippers debut, says he's in the 'best shape' of his career

The LA Clippers bolstered their frontcourt with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins on a 10-day contract and in his debut against the Portland Trail Blazers, the former All-Star big man showed flashes of what he can bring to the table.

In just seven minutes on court, Cousins recorded seven points on 3-of-4 shooting, four rebounds and two assists, making his presence felt almost immediately after checking into the game in the second quarter, snatching an offensive rebound and putting away his first points in a Clipper uniform.

Cousins hasn't played since February 17 after being waived by the Houston Rockets, but the early signs are encouraging, showing his ability to mix it up physically in the paint, set screens and provide spacing with his shooting and the 30-year-old is ready to seize his opportunity.

"I've put in an incredible amount of work to get to this place," Cousins said post-game. "I feel great, my body feels great. I think I'm in the best shape I've been in my entire career."

"He's an All-Star. He's still one of the most skilled bigs in the league," Paul George said following their 133-116 win over the Blazers. "He showed he's got a lot left to give. I'm looking forward to it."

With Serge Ibaka missing 12th straight game (lower back tightness), Cousins has an opportunity to show the Clippers what he can do off the bench, backing up starting center Ivica Zubac, but even when Ibaka returns, Cousins could prove to be a valuable addition for the remainder of the season.

"I understand the situation I'm in," Cousins said. "Whatever opportunities come my way, I'm going to take full advantage of it."

Given the gauntlet of bigs the Clippers could face in the post-season, including the likes of Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks) and Jusuf Nurkic (Portland Trail Blazers), having Cosins' skillset allows the Clippers increased flexibility for matchups in the post-season.

Familiar faces

Joining the Clippers sees Cousins reunite with a familiar face in Rajon Rondo, with the pair having previously been teammates on three other occasions since 2015-16.

Rondo and Cousins playing together with the Sacramento Kings (2015-16), New Orleans Pelicans (2017-18) and Los Angeles Lakers (2019-20) and while Cousins' time as a Laker was hampered by injury, the pair connected well on the floor in Sacramento and New Orleans.

That season in New Orleans saw Cousins play some of the best basketball of his career, before suffering an Achilles injury, while with the Kings the pair formed a devastating one-two punch with 237 of Cousins' 362 assisted field goals coming from Rondo.

"I think he has a lot left," Rondo told ESPN last week. "I know he has a lot to prove to himself and the league and he probably wants to prove as many people wrong as I do for him. … I'm hoping for the best. He's had a tough road to get back to this point where he is."

Cousins also played with George for the USA national team, winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and was teammates with Patrick Patterson during his one year at the University of Kentucky.

After missing the entire 2019-20 season with injury, Cousins was productive this season for the Rockets in 25 games (11 starts), averaging 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 20.2 minutes per game, before parting ways with the franchise.

If he can continue to stay healthy, Cousins could prove to be a valuable signing to fill one of their two open roster spots for the remainder of the season.

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