It always felt like in some way, shape, or form that DeMarcus Cousins would one day become a member of the Denver Nuggets due to his long-standing relationship with Michael Malone. After numerous 10-day contracts, the Nuggets finally signed Cousins for the remainder of the season last week and so far it has been a highly beneficial relationship for both parties.
After a 17-game stint with the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season, the Nuggets swooped in and signed Cousins to be their backup big man. For a second unit that has struggled to say the least for most of the season, the addition of Cousins has been a revelation and has brought a spark to a unit that desperately needed one.
The easiest stat to look at regarding Cousins and his impact on the Nuggets is that Denver is a perfect 10-0 in games he’s played. Last night’s performance was Cousins best in a Nuggets uniform as he scored 19 points in his 18 minutes off the bench. Cousins did all that on an extremely efficient 7-of-10 shooting from the field, 2-of-3 from three to go along with eight rebounds and six assists.
Cousins has brought a new life to the Nuggets second unit with the toughness in which he plays and has already developed a nice rapport with players like Bones Hyland, Bryn Forbes, Austin Rivers, and even JaMychal Green. The Nuggets were lacking a solid rebounder and screener off the bench and Cousins has filled that role to a tee. Add in the fact that Cousins can still put the ball through the hoop at a high level and it has been a match made in heaven between he and the Nuggets.
Now, the time will eventually come and Denver will lose a game that Cousins plays in, but the fact of the matter is they are a much better team going into the playoffs with him on the roster. Even with the possible additions of Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray going into the playoffs, Cousins looks to have a rotation spot locked up for the rest of the season.
Denver could theoretically go into the playoffs with a starting unit that features Murray, Will Barton, Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic. That’s probably the best starting lineup from any playoff team and if you add in the fact their bench would then feature Monte Morris, Bryn Forbes, Cousins, and a mixture of players like Bones Hyland, Zeke Nnaji, Davon Reed, Facu Campazzo, Rivers, Jeff and JaMychal Green... that’s a pretty devastating team to try and stop.
It’s nice because if the Nuggets can secure a good seed going into the playoffs and if everyone stays healthy it gives Michael Malone a plethora of options at his disposal. Cousins has proved his worth during his short time with the Nuggets and if he continues to play at a high level there is no way you can sit him down in the postseason.
Cousins also brings playoff experience as he appeared in eight games for the Golden State Warriors back in 2019 and played in all six of their NBA Finals games. Just this past year, Cousins played in seven playoff games for the Los Angeles Clippers and gave them solid minutes in their Western Conference Finals series against the Phoenix Suns.
It’s just the attitude that Cousins brings which seems to lift up all the players around him. Yes, Cousins may get a tenchical from time-to-time, but that’s just the player he is. Cousins wears his heart on his sleeve and that is something that’s been a breath of fresh air to the Nuggets second unit.
Just last night in their victory over the Trail Blazers, Denver’s second unit scored 76 points and Cousins was tied for the team-high in +/- with a +27. His impact is not only felt in the stat sheet, but it’s felt in the locker room and the addition of Cousins is one we may look back on later this season and say that is where the Nuggets season turned around.