The highly-anticipated return of DeMarcus Cousins from Achilles injury was a success. Though he fouled out in only fifteen minutes, Cousins displayed the skills that earned him a reputation as a feared offensive threat. He’s going to be an amazing offensive fit for this team.
In his first game back, Cousins nailed three of his four threes, proving he can be a spacing option on a team that often needs it. He made a few great passes, similar to how David West would control the offensive flow in the second units in years past. He set hard screens, freeing up the Warriors’ ballhandlers and rolled hard to the rim. Surprisingly, Cousins held his own defensively and ran the floor during transition situations. He looks pretty healthy to me.
Over the course of the season, he’ll continue to shake off rust, improve his conditioning, and hopefully foul less. It’s still uncertain whether he’ll finish games for the Warriors eventually, but his presence is definitely going to improve the team.
For his first game, Cousins started each quarter, playing in short bursts. Thus, he’ll probably be expected to play a complementary role with the starters at the beginning of the first and third quarters and be a focal point of the offense at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters. His playing time mostly coincided with that of Draymond Green, who can cover for him defensively if needed.
I expect this pattern to hold up for a while as Cousins becomes more comfortable with his ankle and his conditioning. As a result, he probably won’t finish many games in the near future. In fact, Kevon Looney, who played 28 minutes in Friday’s game, may still average more minutes than Cousins.
This shift led to some small changes in the rotation: Stephen Curry exited at the end of the first and third quarters early, when he usually stays in until the end of the quarter; it looks like Curry and Durant will spend most of their minutes playing together. Jonas Jerebko only saw 4 minutes of playing time because of the minute crunch. However, it’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from just one game.
It’s difficult to tell how the rotations will shake out in the playoffs. But for right now, Cousin’s offensive talents should shine in the short spurts he does play, and he’ll establish chemistry with the other stars as the season progresses. It’s going to be a lot of fun.