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Stoic Ron Adams gives effusive praise for Demarcus Cousins: “I’ve been pleased with his defense”

Just a few games into his Warriors career, Warriors defensive specialist coach is encouraged

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

Demarcus Cousins is known for many things, but lockdown defense is not one of them. Visibly stiff when we first saw his rehab videos, Cousins has silenced a lot of doubters - but mostly via his work on the offensive side of the floor. There’s going to be a lot of coverage of that side Cousins’ game, and deservedly so. He’s going to be a (much) more dynamic version of that old man killing people at local gyms all over the country playing that “top of the key to the top of the key” game. Trailing threes will just be the start of it, and it’s going to be nice.

But defensively?

Sure, he’ll show flashes but on the whole nobody would fault you for calling Cousins a poor defender. He’s put up pedestrian averages of about one and-a-half blocks, and around one steal per game over the course of his career - but he’s consistently been elite in critical aspects of the game with high rebound, block, and steal rates over the course of his career.

And it’s mostly fine. You live with what Cousins gives you, and happily. This is a tremendously talented offensive player with a nose for rebounds - he doesn’t have to do everything. But what if he did?

Much like Kevin Durant’s surge last season where he upped his defensive intensity to the point where folks were wondering if he could make the all-defense team, Cousins has been better than expected defensively so far. When the playoffs start, Cousins will be relied on for the same 25 pressure-free minutes, or maybe more. How much more he can play will depend not only on his health of course but also on his ability to stay on the court defensively. His current rate of seven fouls per 36 minutes isn’t great.

The Ron Adams interview

The NBA recently published a Q&A with Ron Adams which is good enough that you should go click over and read the whole thing anyways, but also contains plenty of love for Cousins.

I’ve been pleased with his defense in the four games that he’s played. He gives us a different look in the paint, obviously, but he’s a quick player. He’s got good feet. I don’t think defense has always been upper-most in his mind in the past. But he’s been quite good thus far.

He’s shown that he anticipates well and reads well. We do quite a bit of switching -- he’s done a little bit of that lately, and he’s pretty good at it. But we’re trying to bring that aspect along with him. I think he’s shown good awareness and he’s played with good spirit, and really has been a pleasure to be around.

Adams goes on to talk about how Cousins hasn’t really been oriented much on defense for most of his professional life. This doesn’t mean he can’t defend at a high level, it just means that he hasn’t ...yet.

Like the Warriors’ defense improved when it was needed in the playoffs last season, Demarcus Cousins may surprise a lot of people. Ron Adams goes on to talk about the importance of post-season defense and how Cousins’ evolution is coming along:

If you want to win championships and you’re not playing great defense, that’s not going to happen for you.

But I’ve found him very open to what we’ve had to say. I see him working on things that are important to our program. I think he’s internalized those things so they’re important to him.

He’s going to be playing some decent minutes soon; offensively we know what we are getting, and if he can bring that same focus on the defensive end it would add tremendous value. Till then? It’s a work in progress, but it feels good to know that Cousins and Adams are quite capable of getting there when it really starts to matter.

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