To preview the Dallas Mavericks' must win game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, we've brought in Aykis16 from Sactown Royalty for a Q&A about one of the most intriguing young teams in the NBA.
1) DeMarcus Cousins has really come on strong over the last two months. How good do you think he can ultimately be?
DeMarcus Cousins can be the best big man in the NBA if he puts his mind to it. He's got a very good offensive game already, it just lacks polish. He forces too much at times and still shows some poor decision making. But when he's on, he's as good a big as you can find in the league already. He's already one of the best rebounders in the league, and on defense, he has a knack for drawing charges, currently leading the league by a mile in that category according to HoopData. He needs to continue to work on his conditioning and playing defense without fouling (leading the league in that category for the 2nd year in a row), but his potential is through the roof.
2) He's also developing quite a reputation as a sort of new era Rasheed Wallace, particularly after his comments about Blake Griffin's acting ability. Do you think that's fair and as a Kings fan how much does that worry you?
DeMarcus' attitude issues are a bit overblown in my opinion, but they are still a cause for concern. He's only missed a few games in his short NBA career, and only one of those has been due to an injury, while the others have been for disciplinary reasons. A lot of that had to do with ex-Coach Paul Westphal, who constantly feuded with Cousins. New Coach Keith Smart seems to have Cousins ear and there haven't been many problems with him since.DeMarcus kind of reminds me of Charles Barkley more than Sheed: He's fiery and passionate, and he'll say what's on his mind, whether it's politically correct of him to say it or not. He's also got a goofy side too that non-Kings fans tend not to see. He'll be a character in the league for as long as he's a player, that's for sure.
3) Are the Kings "tanking" and are they doing anything thatwould make you question whether they are more concerned w/lottery position than winning on a nightly basis at this point?
I don't think they're tanking as far as trying to lose on purpose. They've had a myriad of injuries lately, particularly to leading scorer Marcus Thornton (who should be available for the game against Dallas) and John Salmons (who has missed the last 8 games in a row). Salmons has sat out with a sore hip, and I question whether he'd be playing if the Kings were in playoff contention. My guess is he would be, but right now the Kings are opting to give some of the younger guys a more extended look, which is just fine by me.
4) Terrence Williams has put up some interesting numbers in Sacramento. He was a really talented player coming out of Louisville; do you think the switch has finally been turned on for him?
It certainly looks like it from the short time he's been here. He's done a little bit of everything, from scoring, rebounding, defending and passing. He's been a boon to the Kings second unit, and Jimmer Fredette in particularly has really benefited. In an interview with the Kings broadcast team, he was asked what he has learned after his last two unsuccessful stops in New Jersey and Houston and he put it simply: "Shut up and play basketball". Williams has been doing that to a high level, and I'll be very surprised if the Kings do not re-sign him this summer.
5) The Kings have two young players on opposite ends of the height spectrum -- the 5'9 Isaiah Thomas and 7'0 Hassan Whiteside -- that catch your eye the second they step on to the court. Talk a little about their games.
You could make the case that Isaiah Thomas has been the 2nd best rookie of the past draft behind Kyrie Irving. Isaiah became the Kings starting point guard in February and has excelled ever since. He pushes the pace, is excellent in the pick and roll (4th best in the entire league according to Synergy Sports), and can score from just about anywhere. His defense is also excellent for a rookie. Despite his size, he uses his quickness and strength to stick to opponents like a magnet. Taller players often try to post him up, only to find out he's much stronger than he appears. Thomas looks to have a very bright future in the NBA.
Whiteside on the other hand has had a much shakier start to his NBA career. He only played two minutes in his rookie year, but has seen some extended playing time this year. He's already a very, very good weakside shotblocker, but that's about the only thing he does well at this point. His offensive game is incredibly raw, and while he possesses immense physical tools, doesn't understand yet how to fully utilize them when rebounding and defending just yet. He's not ready for extended playing time yet, but he could prove to be a solid backup big man eventually, if he figures out the mental aspect of the game.