Boogie Week: A Roundtable
It’s #BoogieWeek at Hickory-High, an extended celebration and exploration of all things DeMarcus Cousins. Check out the rest of our Cousins content here. This special DeMarcus Cousins roundtable is joined by guest star Alex Wong, known in certain circles of the internet as Steven LeBron. Alex is a gentleman and a scholar, who also happens to be on the verge of becoming a published author — you can pre-order a copy of his new book here. It’s a honor to get to ramble alongside him and if you’re not already familiar with him and his work, I hope this is a stirring introduction.
The art for this post is the work of Antonio de Padua C. Neto. You can find out more about Antonio, his work and how to purchase some for your very own, at his website – Neto78.com.
1. Peer into your crystal ball. What is DeMarcus Cousins’ destiny?
Alex Wong (@steven_lebron): The turbulence and sideshow aspect to Boogie and his tantrums, while overplayed at times, will never really go away. He definitely has the talent to be the top player on a contending team, but perhaps it will work better if he ends up being a complement to someone else on a really good team. Put it this way, four years into his NBA career, the question of whether Cousins can be the guy you build around remains open, but often times the addition baggage that he carries becomes too much of a detriment for arguing against him. Consider this:
Anthony Davis: 20.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 52% FG, 1.4 stls, 2.9 blks
DeMarcus Cousins 25.0 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 49% FG, 1.7 stls, 1.4 blks
I use Davis as an example because he is without a doubt one of those franchise cornerstone players, but if that is the case, than give me DeMarcus Cousins instead and I’ll be just as fine.
All of this to say, if Cousins doesn’t end up being a franchise guy on a good team, I’ll actually be very surprised and disappointed. I just hope the Kings build a competitive enough team around him to give us a chance to see what a Cousins-led contender will look like in the post-season and whether he will come through or implode when the stakes are raised.
Kyle Soppe (@unSOPable23): Hall Of Famer. He has all the talent in the world and all he needs is the right situation. I’ll take my chances betting on talent and hoping for him to end up in the right spot than vice versa.
Cameron Purn (@KeeperOTCourt): Perennial All-Star, with a championship or two to boast about. Not dominant but always flirting with the idea.
Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla): There’s no reason to believe he won’t be really, really good for another decade or so, barring injury. He’s only 23 and already is one of the best players at his position in the league. He’s going to have a job for as long as he wants. Skilled big men are hard to come by in the NBA.
Miles Wray (@mileswray): Alternate dimension Rasheed Wallace. Just as Wallace was once mired and then freed from the zany Jail Blazers Era in Portland, so too will DeMarcus one day leave the Kings and swing the final result of a championship or two. At the end of his career he will be enshrined in cult status for some, and a symbol of wasted potential and all that is aggressively wrong with the NBA for others.
Rich Kraetsch (@richkraetsch): I’m going to reel this in a bit, I love DeMarcus as a player and he’s definitely one of the best at his position right now but does he possess the ability to be the number one guy on a title team? I’m not sure but I don’t think so. Will he be able to accept a role as second or third fiddle next to someone who does possess that ability? Perhaps, we’ll see. I’d like to think he’ll get a title at some point but I can just as easily see him getting disenchanted once he signs a big deal, falling out of favor with multiple organizations and coaches and always being centered in a “What if” debate.
Seth Partnow (@WhrOffnsHppns): It’s a toss up between Sheed-style wacky uncle respected veteran status and Derrick Coleman-like series of misadventures and fired coaches. I want to believe he can be “The Man” on a contender, but it’s two steps forward, 1 step back, and one step sideways with him.
Andy Liu (@AndyKHLiu): The fashion trend of the NBA swings from decade to decade, season to season and even game to game. The last time a dominant low-post center led his team to was perhaps Tim Dunacan in 2004-05. And even then, Cousins game rivals not of Duncan’s but more like Shaquille O’Neal’s, the guy who led the Los Angeles Lakers to a championship in 2001-02. It’s normal to measure one’s career and salt it down to championships, MVPs, and All-Star appearances, to name a few. I think Cousins is a fine player by himself, but only the latter is attainable, or so it seems. He’s a fun player to watch, and will probably always remain that way. Being stuck in Sacramento also hinders much of his potential credentials.
Matt Cianfrone (@Matt_Cianfrone): To be one of the ten best players in the league for a eight or so year stretch. I think the attitude stuff is a bit overblown with Boogie as he produces incredibly well and typically doesn’t really miss much time because of it. If he is going to play 78 to 80 games a year at this level for the next ten years I am not sure how you can pass that up. Once he gets surrounded with a competent supporting cast I think the Kings (or wherever he is playing at the time) will be really good, largely because of Boogie in the middle.
Patrick Redford (@patrickredford): Forever an internet superstar, someday IRL basketball star. All the reasons we tend to like DeMarcus is because he is an affront to the way things normally are with NBA superstars. Whether or not he realizes that potential or whatever light we see in him is cloudy, but I think he’ll be a rock soon.
2. You and DeMarcus Cousins are forming a one-on-one book club. What would you like to read with Boogie?
Wong: Chris Herren’s “Basketball Junkie”. One, it’s a great book. Two, actually, I don’t have a second thought, it’s just a great book that I want Boogie to read if he hasn’t.
Soppe: “Missing Piece”. Simple book (would hate to challenge him too much) that has a nice message. Boogie doesn’t impress me as a big time reader, so I’ll keep the time commitment to a minimum for a book club.
Purn: Bill Russell’s memoir, Second Wind.
Karalla: I’m not much of a book reader, to be honest. However, I’d probably want to read Ayn Rand’s “Anthem” with him. (Disclaimer: Rand’s political beliefs have nothing to do with it. Also, I haven’t read the book since I was 14 so I might or might not completely remember what it was about) But, nevertheless, 1.) it’s a quick, easy read, and 2.) it celebrates individualism, and there aren’t many players in the league more unique than Cousins. I don’t see a problem with a player being his own guy.
Wray: Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. Gots to learn to stay in the present moment.
Kraetsch: I’m going to sit down with Boogie and read one of my favorite graphic novels, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The story is about a man interested in capturing the manifestation of Death but instead captures the King of Dreams. I feel like it weaves in perfectly with his odd career thus far.
Partnow: Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
Liu: J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.
Cianfrone: I feel like reading one of the FreeDarko books with Boogie would be pretty fun. So whichever one he wants to read.
Redford: Sergio De La Pava’s “A Naked Singularity.” Big, self conscious, brick of pure American crime narrative that’s really about good/evil, theoretical physics, and justice. Could be either the Boogie or the book really.
3. If you could move any player from the history of the NBA through time and space, bringing them to Sacramento in the present to help Cousins refine his game, who would it be?
Wong: I’m going to nominate two people: Robert Horry the player and Pat Riley the coach. I think from an on-the-court perspective, there are better candidates (which I’m sure the rest of the folks on this roundtable will mention) but the success of these two individuals would give Cousins a voice that he would listen to and respect. Horry could help Cousins understand that while talent is most definitely a large part of the equation for success, the way you integrate into a point and the expectation of yourself as the leader of the team are important too. He’s played with the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, and been coached by Rudy Tomjanovich, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. There’s a lot of wisdom there that can be passed down.
As for Riley, just read this or this. Cousins may not take kindly to Riley’s practice habits (in fact, very few players may welcome it), but again, Riley has the pedigree and the resume to convince Cousins that all the extra work he puts in will, in the end, be beneficial to shaping him as a player.
Soppe: Pair him with John Wall again! I believe comfort would do wonders for the consistency of Cousins, and what better way than to bring back his college point guard?
Purn: Bill Walton. Unlike many young’ins, Cousins has a solid post game already. What he needs refinement in are the emotional and mental-based aspects of his game. Bill Walton was highly skilled (and sizable) in a way that Cousins can relate to, but the real value would come from Walton’s commitment to defense, teamwork and self-sacrifice. Throw in his unique way of articulating things and you’ve got a recipe for a great Cousins mentor.
Karalla: I love the Wall idea, but I think a player like in-his-prime Chauncey Billups would fit well with DMC, too. Billups is one of the most respected players in all of basketball, and he could probably find a way to communicate and connect with Cousins. He was also really good in his day, and that helps.
Wray: Karl Malone. This fellow Southerner is an all-time example of how to build a perennial winner in the NBA’s hinterlands out of nothing but his own rugged work ethic.
Kraetsch: Piggybacking off Miles’ name, I’d chose John Stockton. I see a ton of similarities in Malone and Boogie so perhaps the key to Malone becoming a legend could be the same one to get Cousins on that track.
Partnow: Chris Paul. A little tyrant whose own commitment to winning and ability is beyond questions and won’t be afraid to get in Cousins’ face and even give him a shove as needed. By all accounts, Boogie hates politicking and message sending an would much prefer someone to deal with him straight-up to his face. Fixing Boogie would be CP3’s greatest assist.
Liu: There are so many options it feels like it’d be tough to choose a wrong one. I’d personally roll with LeBron James (for selfish reasons) just because I’d want to see what he can do with an actual back-to-the-basket player. He hasn’t had trouble winning without one but if the Miami Heat can somehow harness the talent of Michael Beasley and exhibit such a strong developmental system, it’d be fun to see what Cousins could do.
Cianfrone: Larry Bird. Like Cousins, Bird was a bit of a nasty guy on the court but somehow he was able to make fans appreciate and love him for it. If he could spend time with Boogie and teach him those ways it would be perfect. Oh and that inside/outside combination would be really tough to stop.
Redford: Isiah Thomas. The right point guard for our hero. He brings the right amount of passing, tough defense, and snarling into the fiery abyss fuckall to complement DMC.
4. Looking around the present-day landscape, which NBA player would be the best front court complement for Cousins?
Wong: I’m hijacking Joakim Noah as my answer because the idea of a Noah-Cousins combination is so perfect.
Soppe: Give me Timmy Duncan. He can serve as a mentor in addition to providing a steadying influence on the court. Even better? Cousins wouldn’t feel threatened by another star player on the rise, as Duncan will be calling it a career before Boogie peaks.
Purn: Serge Ibaka. Cousins’ defensive shortcomings – gambling and not moving his feet, slow rotations, providing unimpressive rim protection – are exactly what Ibaka’s presence would cover up. On offense they’d work extremely well, provided that Ibaka doesn’t occupy the paint, is a great spot-up shooter, and Cousins is adept at locating teammates.
Partnow: Cam stole my Thunder, Ibaka is the perfect compliment on both ends of the court, and would secretly help his ref complaining game, as Serge is underrated in this area having learned at the knee of two of the best in Perk and D-Fish.
Karalla: LeBron James. If that isn’t an acceptable answer, I’ll go instead with a bit of an out-there choice: Derrick Favors. They’re both young and Favors is an animal defensively. I’d love to watch them play together for the next 10 years. Only problem is Favors’ offensive game isn’t as refined or dynamic as Cousins’s (whose is at that position, really?), but I’d hold out hope they could make it work.
Wray: Kevin Garnett. Twilight KG understands that he would cede top billing to DeMarcus, and it’s awfully hard to lose yourself in self-destructive antics when Garnett and his imposing expletive-cannon is looming in the background.
Kraetsch: Joakim Noah or Marc Gasol for the same reasons others mentioned, everything Cousin’s doesn’t do, Noah and Gasol do. Noah and Marc Gasol are both fantastic passers who can operate near the top of the key and allow Cousins to work off pick and roll, cut to the basket, or afford him space down low.
Liu: LeBron James is the answer to everything.
Cianfrone: How fun would an Anthony Davis/DeMarcus Cousins combination be? Now imagine Davis stretching his range out to the three point line. Davis would give Cousins the rim protecting big man that he would benefit from and Boogie would give Davis help offensively and let him do the things that he does really well on that end like play in the pick-and-roll and knock down open jumpers instead of having to post-up often.
Redford: Marc Gasol. Everything Cousins does at an average level, Gasol does at an elite level. All of Cousins’ strengths overlap with Gasol’s. It would be a massive front court, possibly too unwieldy, but that particular beast in the playoffs would be like the current Grizzlies but somehow meaner.
5. What is DeMarcus Cousins’ spirit animal?
Wong: I can’t think of one animal that defines him, instead I’m going to say he is a combination of: Tyler Durden (Boogie is always fighting himself), Tony Montana’s last scene in Scarface (always on the edge), Rick James (habitual line stepper) and every single Kanye rant ever (super talented, feels misunderstood).
If I have to pick an animal, just give me any of the remaining direwolves on Game Of Thrones, because the Game of Thrones Wiki says they are large and intelligent, which fits too.
Soppe: Coyote Boogie
Purn: What is true with grizzly bears is true with Cousins. Both are gargantuan-sized and physically overwhelming. Both are also highly unpredictable, and while not especially welcoming of others, will show affection towards the closest of kin.
Karalla: Werewolf might be too harsh, but I can explain. He can be mean. He can be dangerous. He can be vicious. He can be incredibly powerful. But he only changes into that character every so often. You know… once every full moon………
Wray: Pick your trickster of oral legend.
Kraetsch: Butterfly. “This animal totem is primarily associated with symbolism of change and transformation.” That’s the narrative on Cousins, that something has to change and I don’t think that’s necessarily him exclusively, I don’t know that he has to change but the atmosphere surrounding him, the organization around him, the players around him all have to change and transform for him to reach his immense potential.
Partnow: The Incredible Hulk. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Cianfrone: Having seen DeMarcus in person (when he was a freshman at Kentucky playing at Georgia) I can’t see how it is anything but a grizzly bear. He is just a massive, massive human being and with his disposition you could absolutely convince me that Boogie is part bear, not just that it is his spirit animal.
Redford: A large ornery bear.