Tonight marks the first NBA game that 4x All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins has played since rupturing his Achilles tendon nearly a year ago.
Cousins will be suiting up as a member of the Golden State Warriors, after setting the league on fire over the summer, announcing his deal with the reigning NBA champions of the past two years.
The 2x All-NBA Second Team selection was having a career year with the New Orleans Pelicans before he went down with the injury, averaging career-highs in assists (5.4), rebounds (12.9) and steals (1.6) to go along with 25.2 points per game. Cousins undoubtedly benefited from a full training camp with New Orleans after getting traded from the Sacramento Kings in 2017, and was able to build on the chemistry with frontcourt running mate, Anthony Davis.
After claiming he was never offered a contract from the Pelicans, Cousins pulled his chess move by signing with the Warriors and chasing a championship before signing a big-bucks deal next offseason, should he recover fully and return to form.
Cousins’ return will be against the 7th-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, a potential playoff matchup, with the Warriors just recently overtaking the Denver Nuggets for the top seed in the Western Conference.
It’s unrealistic to expect a virtuoso performance out of Cousins in his first outing in 12 months, and it’s impossible to tell how much a player can find himself again after an Achilles tendon tear. Here are three predictions for Cousins’ return to the NBA floor:
Warriors win in convincing fashion
This night could be extra special for Boogie Cousins because his first game back will be a W. It isn’t the boldest prediction since the Warriors are 8-2 in their last 10 games and are on a 6-game winning streak, but it’s a prediction nonetheless.
The Clippers are no pushover — they’re only two games behind the 3rd and 4th-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers — and have proved to be an exciting team without a clear, singular star on their roster.
The Warriors have the opposite situation, with every single player in their starting lineup being an All-Star. Teams like the Boston Celtics have had trouble dealing with “too much talent” on their roster, but the difference between the Celtics and Warriors is three championships in the last four years.
The Dubs should extend their winning streak to 7 games as well as ease Boogie into the rotation with a solid win over a quality team.
Cousins gets a double-double…with assists and rebounds.
Everyone is expecting Cousins to come out guns blazing and ready to score, but this isn’t the same DeMarcus Cousins. Coach Steve Kerr expects high-level play from whoever is out on the floor, and Boogie can show off what else he has in his arsenal aside from scoring.
Rather than barreling his way to the rim, Boogie can show poise by passing out of the post and dishing to one of three of the best shooters in NBA history in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant out on the perimeter.
Cousins has steadily increased his rebounding numbers each year in the league, and even though he’s been out awhile, should easily trust his instincts in crashing the boards. Cousins will find his legs and natural ability in scoring eventually, but he should find his way to double-digit rebounds tonight.
Projected stat-line for Boogie: 8 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists
Cousins gets a technical foul
And finally, what would a Boogie game be without a technical foul?
He’s already gotten T’d up as a member of the Warriors, getting a technical and being ejected from the bench in an October game this season. Cousins has a total of 118 technical fouls in his career, and could increase that number tonight.
Battling down low against the physical Marcin Gortat and behemoth Boban Marjonovic, Cousins could get frustrated on a play and unleash a tirade on a ref that only Boogie knows how to.
Nothing is certain when it comes to how Cousins affects the Warriors, but we could be seeing the biggest duo in NBA history when it comes to technical fouls with DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green on the same team.