Kings Blog

DeMarcus Cousins came away from Team USA a more confident defender

There have been many times in speaking with DeMarcus Cousins over the last four years he’d say he wasn’t much of a shot blocker.

There was always a hint of humor in those comments, but for years Cousins had always been told he wasn’t a good defender.

Those who know him have always said he has the instincts, smarts and was athletic enough to be a good defender. Now Cousins believes that.

Coming off his efforts with Team USA during the FIBA World Cup, Cousins returns to the Kings knowing he can impact games on defense just as forcefully as he does on offense.

“I feel like I added a lot to my game, especially defensively,” Cousins said Friday during the team’s media day. “I have the confidence to know I really can do it on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. I learned a lot from it, it was an incredible experience.”

In 13.9 minutes per game, Cousins averaged 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks to go with 9.8 points.

Kings’ brass were impressed with the energy Cousins played with during the tournament. That he comes back knowing he can be a good defender bodes well.

“I want to share some of the knowledge I got from Team USA with some of my teammates,” Cousin said. “... I’m extremely excited about training camp.”

Cousins looks to be in as good a shape as he’s been to start a season as a pro, which is also due to his time with the national team.

“(I’m) a little more banged up, a little more tired but the advantage I have more of a game-ready shape than I usually am coming into a training camp,” Cousins said.

Cousins likes the additions to the Kings, too.

We got a lot more athletic at the big man position,” Cousins said. “We picked up guys like Ryan Hollins, Eric Moreland and those guys can pick up fullcourt and help speed up the tempo of the game. And picking up (guards) D.C. (Darren Collison) and picking up Ramon (Sessions) I think they pick up the tempo of our game as well. I think we have a team where we can play a lot of different styles and still be effective. I think we have a chance to be a really good team this year.”

• Kings majority owner Vivke Ranadive joked only players who won gold medals over the summer have guaranteed starting jobs. Cousins and Rudy Gay can relax now. The plan is to not overwork Cousins and Gay in camp since they played for Team USA and like Cousins said, are more game ready than usual.

• Gay said he’s fine after the elbow to the mouth he took during the World Cup that required some dental work.

• The buzzwords from today: position-less basketball, unselfish, team play, ball movement, versatility. I wouldn’t be shocked if these words ended up on the walls of the team facility.

• More on versatility: Some of the lineups the Kings will look at include two lead-guard sets that would feature some pairings of Collison, Sessions and Ray McCallum, too. Kings coach Michael Malone said he told Sessions to be ready to play with either McCallum or Collison.

General manager Pete D’Alessandro said Hollins could allow Cousins to play some power forward if they are in the game together.