Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
VIDEO: Cousins Gets Out The Vote
Should DeMarcus Cousins be a Western Conference All-Star?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Of course he should. Despite the Kings’ record, Cousins is having a high impact season across the board – points, rebounds, steals, turnovers, usage, PER – and he’s doing it while playing as the focal point of the opponents’ defensive game plan. Maybe his bundle of skills wouldn’t showcase great in an All-Star Game – they tried to legislate out the big guys, right, with that “Frontcourt” designation? – and maybe he hasn’t fully “earned” the honor, based on his travels along the maturity scale. But it might help to expose him to the game’s most elite players, present and past, in concentrated form. Besides, I’ve always considered the “All Stars need to come from winning teams” filter arbitrary and, in a team game, wrong.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Of course, he should. If an anonymous big man were averaging 23.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.0 blocks per game, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. It’s only because his name is DeMarcus Cousins with his reputation and baggage that you’re asking the question.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: The way I see it is two spots will be available. Let’s assume the West frontcourt starters remain as they are after two rounds of fan voting: Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard. Then assume that Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge will be automatic picks as reserves (voted on by West coaches). So two spots remain. I don’t think David Lee and Tim Duncan return. Will coaches give Dirk Nowitzki, whose knee surgery last year ended 11 consecutive appearances, get him back in as he’s jumped from 18th to 13th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list? How about hometown kid Anthony Davis, who’s averaging a double-double and leads the league in blocks? Are Chandler Parsons and do-it-all Nicolas Batum in the hunt? Back to Cousins, he’s got the numbers, no doubt. He’s also got the rep, which won’t help. And the Kings have won a West-worst 10 games. Right or wrong, coaches put emphasis on winning. So no, DeMarcus Cousins will not make his first All-Star team.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: No. For one thing, team record should be factored. For another, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge are on. That’s already five for the West front court. Then there’s Dirk Nowitzki, Anthony Davis and maybe Zach Randolph. Cousins at 23 and 11 should be in the conversation. But through bad defense, foolish fouls and continued problems handling his emotions is hurting his team more than any of the other candidates. That’s the tough part to get past.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. After the three guys who are leading the frontcourt voting, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love should be locks, and Cousins is in a second-tier group with Anthony Davis, Tim Duncan, David Lee and Dirk Nowitzki. Given the Kings’ record, at least two of those guys (probably Duncan and Nowitzki) deserve a spot over Cousins. His individual numbers are terrific, but the Kings are 11-22 because their defense is atrocious. If you’re a center who wants to be an All-Star, you can’t have your team ranking 29th in defensive efficiency.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Nope! Sorry big fella. There’s just no room for you on the Western Conference reserves list, not with all of the big men on that side of the conference divide playing the way they have so far this season. I know he’s putting up monster numbers this season, by far the best of his career. And I applaud him for that. He’s done a nice job in his effort to erase the drama from his profile and earning his keep as a team leader. It’s those other numbers, however, that hinder the chances of Cousins making it to New Orleans next month as anything other than a spectator (or as a contestant in one of the Saturday night events). I couldn’t put him on the team over LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love or Dwight Howard or David Lee or Anthony Davis or Blake Griffin or Dirk Nowitzki. Plenty of worthy candidates miss out on the All-Star Game because of the numbers game that always goes on. There are more All-Star worthy players than there are All-Star slots.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blog: Yes. He’s been toiling away in Sacramento, mostly unnoticed by the casual fan, but check out his numbers in comparison to some of the other Western players, like in this comment from the All Ball DeMarcus All-Star post. Cousins will have a few things working against him, including a history of making mischief, as well as playing on a team that only has 11 wins. But the Kings have committed themselves to Cousins and he has to commit himself carrying them. An all-expenses paid weekend trip to New Orleans would be a nice bonus for everyone involved.
Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: Hey, if they can’t find him a spot in the Western Conference, can they loan him to the Eastern Conference? I mean, sure, there are enough good options in the East to fill the frontcourt rotation, but how many of them are actually playing better than Cousins? He is an All-Star, no doubt about it, even in the loaded West. He’s definitely one of the top 4 post players in the conference.
Akshay Manwani, NBA India: Definitely. If you go by PIE or Player Efficiency Rankings, Cousins is in the top-10 in both categories. Moreover, there is no pure center in the league ranked ahead of him, not even Dwight Howard. The argument against Cousins, however, is Sacramento’s worst record in the West. But if winning is everything, then Carmelo Anthony, too, shouldn’t be an All-Star this season.
Simon Legg, NBA Australia: As much as I’ve loved watching him play this season, that Western Conference frontcourt is probably too congested with Howard, Aldridge, Love, Griffin, etc. all going to make it.