The Kings’ roster includes two unrelated Cousins.
While two-time All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins spends the summer preparing to play for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, second-round draft pick Isaiah Cousins will work just as hard trying to secure a spot on Sacramento’s roster.
Isaiah Cousins, a sweet-shooting 6-foot-4 guard from Oklahoma, believes his perimeter game could complement his namesake’s bruising play in the paint.
Everything happens for a reason, so you might as well go where your opportunity comes at you.
Kings guard Isaiah Cousins
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While being introduced with two of the Kings’ three first-round draft picks Monday at the team’s Experience Center, Cousins described his style as “pushing the ball, rebounding as a big guard and being able to make plays.”
First-year coach Dave Joerger said Cousins’ size, toughness and “intangibles” could benefit the team, which needs backcourt help.
Cousins was dwarfed by the two other rookies at Monday’s news conference: Skal Labissiere, a 6-11 forward from Kentucky; and Georgios Papagiannis, a 7-2 center from Greece who turns 19 Sunday. While Labissiere and Papagiannis took most of the questions, Cousins waited patiently.
Cousins also waited patiently during the NBA draft Thursday in New York. He finally heard his name called with the 59th of 60 picks. But he said he was excited to join a team that might play him immediately.
“Everything happens for a reason, so you might as well go where your opportunity comes at you,” Cousins said.
While not as highly touted as his peers, Cousins and those who know him believe his chances of making an impact on the Kings are as good as his fellow rookies’.
Cousins, who was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., a suburb of the Bronx, attended Mount Vernon High School, where he led his team to two state championships while earning the title of “Mr. Basketball” for New York Section 1.
40.7 Isaiah Cousins’ career three-point percentage at Oklahoma
Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said Cousins was “a workout fanatic” and “laser-focused on basketball” in high school. Cimmino continues to inspire his players with stories about Cousins’ aggressive drives and relentless defense.
Oklahoma doesn’t regularly attract players from Cousins’ ZIP code. But Cousins said he was drawn by the opportunity to go far from home.
“I just wanted to get out of New York City,” he said. “I wanted something different.”
And for good reason.
Mount Vernon has been reported to have one of the nation’s highest rates of violent crime. Following his sophomore season at Oklahoma, Cousins was struck on the back of his shoulder by a stray bullet while walking through his hometown in May 2014. After recovering from the gunshot wound, his mother, Lisa, insisted he remain in Norman, Okla., until he graduated.
During his four seasons at Oklahoma, Cousins played in every game, starting his last 105. He shot 40.7 percent from three-point range and finished with 176 three-pointers. He spent most of his Sooners career as a shooting guard, but he switched to point guard as a senior. Playing alongside the Naismith Player of the Year, Buddy Hield, Cousins helped the Sooners reach the Final Four.
Shooting guard is a position of need for the Kings, with only Ben McLemore set to return. Since McLemore hasn’t yet developed into a consistent scorer, the Kings likely will try to sign a shooting guard in free agency. The only other shooting guard on the roster is Malachi Richardson, the 22nd pick in this year’s draft, whom the Charlotte Hornets officially will trade to the Kings on Friday.
If Cousins shoots well during summer league in Las Vegas and exhibition games, he’ll have a good chance to make the roster.
Cousins has another talent he could bring to the team: dancing. Cimmino said Cousins, usually quiet and serious, occasionally would celebrate a big win at Mount Vernon with electrifying moves. He also was voted “Best Dancer” by his Oklahoma teammates.
“I can definitely make a team get loose,” Cousins said, cracking a smile.
DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins might have to share his nickname with Isaiah, too.
Josh Mandell: 916-321-1076
The Bee’s Jason Jones contributed to this report.
Watching the rookies
- What: NBA summer league
- Where: Las Vegas
- When: July 8-18
- Who: Draft picks, young players, free agents
- Kings schedule: July 8 vs. Toronto, July 10 vs. Houston, July 11 vs. New Orleans; Games 4 and 5 to be determined after seeding for tournament; championship is July 18
- TV: Most summer league games are broadcast by NBATV, either live or taped