Well here we are in the holiday season. What’s the one thing on most Washington Wizards fans’ wish lists? A reunion of their star point guard John Wall and elite Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins in Washington, DC.
That desire has only grown stronger with both players recently admitting that they have discussed a potential reunion. The two only played one year of college basketball together while at Kentucky, but they saw much success together, going 35-3 and making it to the Elite Eight before being eliminated by West Virginia.
The two have remained friends off the court throughout their time playing professionally in the NBA. But is this enough to produce a winning team and bring the next level of success back to the nation’s capital? And even if this move could make the Wizards better, would it even possible at this point?
Let’s take a closer look at what a possible Boogie-to-DC movement might mean for the Wizards.
John Wall has enjoyed a certain level of limited achievement in the NBA. He led the Wizards to the Eastern Conference Semifinals two years in a row, though the team also ended up falling twice in a row in Game Six of the semifinals, first to the Indiana Pacers in 2014 and then the Atlanta Hawks in 2015. Wall is also the Wizards all-time franchise leader in both assists and steals, and he seems poised to continue breaking franchise records in his remaining time playing in Washington.
— CSN Wizards (@CSNWizards) November 8, 2016
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 15, 2016
Cousins has risen to become one of the best centers in the NBA, if not the best, though he has not found nearly the kind of success that Wall has had in Washington. The Kings have not even managed to win as many games in a single season as Cousins’ did throughout his single season at Kentucky, with the Kings’ highest win mark coming at 33 wins in the 2015-2016 season.
When a team has arguably the best center in the NBA, but still can’t even come within shouting distance of the playoff race, what does that say about their star player? This raises an interesting question: Is Cousins the kind of player that can actually make a team better?
The answer is possibly yes, but it must be with the right pieces around him. That is clearly not happening in Sacramento.
Washington is a team that limped out to an early 2-9 start this season, which had fans and players alike clamoring for a change (particularly when it comes to the Wizards’ bench). Since then, the Wizards seem to have figured things out somewhat and found both their rhythm and their way to to a 14-16 record, with Wall having a career year and Bradley Beal playing like an All-Star worthy of the $128 million contract he signed over the summer.
Despite still being in the playoff race in a relatively confusing Eastern conference – the Wizards are currently sitting at 10th in the East, half a game back from the 6th place Hawks, and two full games back from the 5th place Knicks – they still clearly do not have all of the pieces needed to truly be contenders.
This is where the Boogie factor comes in.
DeMarcus Cousins may not be the kind of player that can save a franchise by himself, but for a team that is right on the fringe, adding a player of Cousins’ caliber can be the piece that pushes them within reach of contending, or at least being able to make some noise in the playoffs. That theory assumes, however, that your team remains largely the same after trading for him.
Washington simply does not have the pieces required to trade for a player of Cousins’ caliber without sacrificing key pieces of their lineup such as Bradley Beal, Otto Porter (who is fresh off a huge 32-point, 13-rebound outing in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks), or an emerging Kelly Oubre, Jr. A trade would likely need to include all or some combination of those players. If the Wizards lose enough pieces, they’ll essentially end up where the Kings are – a couple of star players stuck in a perennial lottery pick holding pattern.
There’s also the issue of attitudes. Wall and Cousins are currently tied for most technical fouls in the NBA at eight – halfway to the magic number of 16, which will warrant an automatic one-game suspension. Either they will both somehow manage to mellow each other out, or they will enable each other and the Wizards will pick up another easy target for referees to assess technical fouls to.
DeMarcus Cousins has been given a technical foul & fined $25k for throwing his mouthpiece in the stands against Minnesota after fouling out. pic.twitter.com/jEMif1X1Bg
— DTS Hoops (@dtshoops) October 31, 2016
— DCnow (@DCnowApp) December 22, 2016
So, can DeMarcus Cousins save the Washington Wizards from another season of mediocrity? Likely not any time in the immediate future. With Cousins under contract through 2018 and Wall locked in until 2019 and the Wizards lacking the pieces to make a decent deal without sabotaging their own development this season, it seems both players will be staying put in their current situations.
Sorry Wizards fans, it seems all that talk between Wall and Cousins about teaming up is destined to be just that for right now: talk.