DeMarcus Cousins is the Hero Charlotte Needs

Mar 20, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) is defended by New York Knicks center Robin Lopez (8) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) is defended by New York Knicks center Robin Lopez (8) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Charlotte Hornets have been looking for a superstar to lead them to glow for well over a decade. DeMarcus Cousins is the hero Charlotte needs.

But is Cousins the hero Charlotte deserves?

The Charlotte Hornets have done a fantastic job of adding and retaining their key players, but they’ve been playing it safe for the most part, and playing it safe equals mediocrity in the NBA. Charlotte certainly is better than a middle of the pack team, tying with three other teams to finish with the 3rd best record in the Eastern Conference last season. However their current roster would have to overachieve immensely to take even one game from the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So what is Charlotte missing?

Center Position

Charlotte’s weakest position is at center. With a top ten point guard in Kemba Walker, a great playmaker at shooting guard in Nicholas Batum, a lockdown wing in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and a knockdown stretch-4 in Marvin Williams, the starting line up for Charlotte is impressive. The only glaring weakness for the Hornets is their big man. Cody Zeller did an admirable job last year stepping up for an injured Al Jefferson. But can he and Roy Hibbert provide what Charlotte needs to succeed? Combining for a pedestrian 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds, it’s doubtful.

DeMarcus Cousins can solve all that and more. Averaging 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds last year, Cousins exceeds Charlotte’s production easily. Considering how Hassan Whiteside destroyed the Hornets on the boards last postseason, a rebounding upgrade is a necessity.

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Is a trade feasible?

With all the talk about how Boston has a treasure trove of picks and young prospects to trade for DeMarcus, Charlotte can be overlooked as trade destination. However, the Hornets are certainly not lacking in picks themselves. Unlike the Clippers or Nets, GM Rich Cho has done a solid job not trading away the future for mediocre assets.

Charlotte owns all their future first round picks and most of their second round picks. Combined with a roster full of young talent, the Hornets have the necessary package to trade for a franchise superstar. Trading for a superstar requires a lot of sacrifice, and the Hornets certainly don’t have a lot of blockbuster trades in the past to learn from. But this might be one scenario that could bring Cousins’ talents to North Carolina.

A combination of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, and the Hornet’s 2017 and 2019 first round picks would be enough to land Cousins. Certainly Kidd-Gilchrist is a great defender and the small sample size in 2015-2016 showed what he could become, but he has played less and less games each year and it might be time to move on. Jeremy Lamb is also an interesting prospect with the potential to become a knockdown shooter. Now even with two additional first round picks, the Kings would still likely be reluctant to take this deal.

After all, 4 quarters do not equal a dollar in the NBA, and franchise players are hard to come by. But after the train-wreck of a ride the Cousins era has been in Sacramento, it’s time to move on. Both Lamb (24) and Kidd-Gilchrist (22) have a lot of potential, and would fit perfectly into the Kings’ rebuild. For this plan to work, Cousins still needs to demand a trade, which most sane players would have done already.

How Cousins fits in Charlotte

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The Hornets have been compared to the Golden State Warriors numerous times last season. Running a fast paced, three-point heavy offense will do that. Many fans might say that adding a ball dominant big man will slow down the pace and change Charlotte’s play style. Also, with the declining role of centers in the NBA, shouldn’t Charlotte fully invest in the small ball trend?

Despite popular belief, Cousins isn’t solely a half court threat. Quite the contrary. In fact, he excelled playing with the fastest pace in the league set by Sacramento. Charlotte had only the 19th fastest pace in the NBA, but this showcases Cousins’ versatility more than anything. As for investing solely in small ball, Charlotte might not have the personnel to pull that off.

Emulating the Golden State Warriors and their phenomenal lineup is sound in theory, but only one team has both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. The Hornets would have a much higher chance of success emulating Stan Van Gundy’s 1 in 4 out system. With how versatile Cousins is offensively, and the spacing that Walker, Batum, and Williams provide, it would be devastating.

Charlotte would have even more space and scoring punches than Detroit does currently. Not only would the addition of Cousins give Charlotte the isolation scorer they need, but also complement the strengths of the current roster.

Limitless potential

The Hornets offer an upgrade at every position over Sacramento. Being surrounded by mediocre talent for most of his career, Cousins has struggled with his efficiency. Sacramento has failed to provide Cousins with a secondary star capable of maximizing his talents.

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Kemba Walker is one of the most lethal pick and roll threats in the league. Having a dominant big man would give him more freedom to do what he does best, score. With less defensive attention focused on our favorite 6’1 guard, the possibilities are endless.

Batum is one of best non-guard playmakers in the league, adding another threat to surround Cousins. Most importantly, Cousins would have a front court partner in Marvin Williams who can give him the room to do what he does best, score in the post. Cousins has never had a true floor spreading power forward next to him and Williams fits the bill perfectly.

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Cousins would thrive in this type of spaced out line-up. Although Charlotte would lose some wing depth with the loss of Lamb and Kidd-Gilchrist,  Bellinelli is a suitable replacement. No one said trading for a superstar was easy. However, the arrival of Cousins would take the Hornets from an average playoff team to perhaps even title contention.