(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

With a record of 5-2, the Sacramento Kings are looking like contenders in the Western Conference. It likely won’t last but when you have a player as good as Demarcus Cousins, anything is possible.

Cousins has been known more for his outrageous on-court antics than his on-court play, but Cousins is a different player this year. Something changed him.

During the offseason Cousins competed in the FIBA Championships and was an integral part of Team USA’s gold medal run. Coach Mike Kryzyewski saw the game-changing ability in Cousins, and had this to say following the team’s Gold Medal game against Serbia.

“The first five minutes of tonight’s game, they knocked us back. Cousins really, I think, turned the game around. I don’t only think; I know.”

Cousins has carried over his confident play from the FIBA tournament, and while most of the attention has been centered on Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love, it’s Cousins that might be the top overall big man in the NBA.

Unlike Cousins, the aforementioned players do not play the center position, but you can’t really compare any other center to Cousins. His playing style is much more diverse than that of Dwight Howard, whom many consider to be the most dominant center in the game. ( Also, Al Jefferson and Marc Gasol deserve respect, but I don’t feel they can match Cousin’s potential.)

Howard’s game is played strictly down low. However, Cousins likes to use the whole court. He will set a pick at the top of the key and pop out for a jumper. Cousins can extend out to the short corner and fire a shot straight through the net.

Cousins also has some great footwork which was on full display during the team’s win against the Denver Nuggets On November 5th, Cousins put the ball on the floor and escaped a Wilson Chandler and Darrell Arthur double team with a nifty spin move to the basket. It’s those kinds of moves you don’t see from your average NBA center.

With fancy moves and jump-shots, people seem to forget the most impressive, and underrated aspect to his game, his passing. He can take the ball on the block and find the cutter for an easy two points, or post up a defender and feed the ball to the open three-point shooter.

This season Cousins is averaging 24 points, which is two higher than his average from a season ago, and aside from that has remained relatively the same stat wise. He is indeed a different player. Something changed during that FIBA tournament, and there is still plenty of time for improvement.

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