The three-time All-Star is building on his impressive resume this season, averaging double figures in both points (27.8) and rebounds per game (10.7), on pace to average a double-double for the fifth time in his seven-year career.
If his ability to punish defenders down low and get to the free-throw line 10 times a game wasn’t enough, Cousins’ development stretching the floor has progressed swimmingly, as he’s shooting 35.4 percent from three on the year.
That mark, in particular, has played a big factor in Cousins achieving his most efficient season to date, judging by his 56.2 percent true shooting percentage.
Simply put, there are very few players in the league who can equal Cousins’ value when he’s at the peak of his powers and the skill set he possesses, at his size too, truly puts him in a league of his own.
The latest skill Cousins has been mastering this year to round out his vast array of abilities on the offensive end has been his playmaking.
Already a capable and willing passer, Cousins’ playmaking has reached new heights this season. Month by month, Cousins has upped his assists per game, starting from 3.2 in October/November to 7.7 in the month of February.
Overall, Cousins is averaging a career-high assist percentage (28 percent, per Basketball-Reference) and his 4.9 assists per game leads the Kings on the year, with Ty Lawson not far behind him at 4.5 assists per game.
With his unique court vision and the type of attention he demands on the block from the opposing defense, Cousins has regularly connected with open shooters spotting up in the corner regularly throughout the year.
In addition to finding shooters when positioned down low, Cousins’ ability to penetrate, attract a crowd of defenders and dish the ball off to a cutting King to the rim, in this case Willie Cauley-Stein, is something you can’t take for granted for a player at his size.
That one-two combination Cousins possesses is just brutal for opposing defenses to prepare for, given everything else Cousins does that demands attention over the course of a game.
But make no mistake, though, Cousins’ growth as a playmaker is by necessity for both him and the Kings.
That could increase when you factor in the long list of injuries the Kings are dealing with at the moment as well (add Malachi Richardson to that list now after Thursday’s news).
That workload obviously comes with an increased risk of turnovers and Cousins’ 3.8 turnovers per game are evident of that, though his turnover percentage on the season ranks at 13.2 percent.
Whether that kind of usage will affect Cousins’ overall effectiveness and efficiency remains to be seen, but it’s certainly something to monitor once play resumes after the All-Star break.
However, it’s not as if the Kings haven’t played through Cousins for some time and given where his playmaking was heading into the season, this year has only strengthened Cousins’ one-of-a-kind distribution.