Thanks to a historic night not seen since Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Cousins marked his 2018 NBA All Star selection with a 44 point, 24 rebound and 10 assist performance in New Orleans Pelicans win over Chicago Bulls.
Aside LeBron James and Paul George, the former Kentucky product is the most desired player this offseason. A common theme is being played out in the league since this year’s All Star starting list was announced; the stars have been super good.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia Sixers to a shock win over Boston Celtics at the TD Garden after earning his first All Star nod. Russell Westbrook did his near triple double thing in Oklahoma City Thunder’s 148-124 win over Cleveland Cavaliers. James Harden drilled a go ahead three point shot in the face of Conference Captain Stephen Curry to lead Houston Rockets to a morale boosting win over Golden State Warriors.
Speaking of the Warriors, Curry’s backcourt mate Klay Thompson buried seven three pointers to beat the Bulls. Milwaukee Bucks All Star Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has not experienced the same rich vein of form since he was named to the Eastern Conference starting team as his side has won just three of the last 10 games. Worse news was delivered to the Greek Freak on Cousins historic night as Coach Jason Kidd got fired from his post in Milwaukee.
Reports suggest the 2013 Draft pick did not consent to the move but has to deal with it as all superstar players do. Defending Kidd is no surprise since the Hall of Fame bound former Guard turned Antetokounmpo into a 6 foot 11 inch offense creator. Despite leading the Bucks to a pair of playoff appearances in the past three seasons, his efforts coupled with internal issues moved the team’s management to do away with his services. This comes as a shock given the team’s poor record prior to Kidd’s arrival and his close relationship with franchise player Antetokounmpo.
However, management’s decision is warranted given the poor returns on a roster that ought to be ranked way higher than seventh place in the conference standings. In Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee has a top 5 player who is a dark horse MVP candidate this season. Khris Middleton is a top 10 Small Forward and Eric Bledsoe is far underrated for the 15.7 points and three assists he is providing this season after moving from Phoenix Suns. With reigning Rookie of the Year winner Malcolm Brogdon and future MVP winner Thon Maker (according to Kevin Garnett) on the roster, winning 24 games and losing 22 simply doesn’t cut it.
Despite the long absence of Jabari Parker, the Bucks ought to rank above Indiana Pacers who were destined for sub 30 wins this season after trading Paul George. However, that is yet to manifest forcing management to part ways with the former Brooklyn Nets trainer. Taking this route is reminiscent of Golden State doing away with Mark Jackson despite Jackson taking the team back to relevance on the back of a grueling playoff series against San Antonio Spurs. Despite Curry’s unhappiness with the decision to the extent of yelling “It’s a business” down the hallway while Chairman Joe Lacob addressed the media, management appointed Steve Kerr and the rest is history. Jackson did little to get Klay and Curry from double teams while shooting three point shots.
Once Kerr came in, moved Andre Iguodala to the bench, signed Shaun Livingston and made a couple of tweaks, the Warriors romped to the NBA title. Despite pinning his success on defense, the Bucks efforts on that end have not been encouraging with the team ranked 26th in defensive rating. More troubling for Milwaukee is the team’s shocking 30th rank in the league in rebounds; mind you the Bucks are the longest team in the league with a starting unit that has only Bledsoe listed under 6 foot 6 foot inches.
To address the issue, the team is in trade talks with Los Angeles Clippers to get DeAndre Jordan; DeAndre is in a hectic battle with Andre Drummond for the rebounding crown. Little is known of Kidd’s involvement in the trade that took away Greg Monroe to Phoenix in exchange for Bledsoe but it could be a potential sticking point for his dismissal. While Bledsoe’s production has been very good, sacrificing Monroe’s points off the bench has cost Milwaukee consistent points from the bench as the team’s ranks 28th in second unit production.
While his sack has shocked the association, his former team can only get better after in the immediate future.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter