DeMarcus Cousins knows what he can do alongside Anthony Davis after being teammates on the New Orleans Pelicans.
But throw LeBron James alongside the big man duo, and Cousins is excited about the possibilities for the Los Angeles Lakers.
“That’s part of the reason why we wanted to become teammates again,” Cousins said of teaming up with Davis on a conference call with Lakers media Wednesday. “We realized how much better we made one another and how much we made the game easier for each other. We both appreciate each other’s presence.
“To add LeBron James to the mix, his résumé speaks for itself. One of the greatest players ever to play the game, added to that, it should be an exciting season.”
Cousins signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Lakers in free agency and is reunited with former Pelicans teammates Davis and Rajon Rondo. With the Lakers surrounding James and Davis with the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rondo, Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley, Cousins sees a powerful squad.
“The roster is incredible,” said Cousins, who could start at center with Davis at power forward. “I think we got a lot of talented pieces on paper. On paper we look legit, we look like we have a great chance of competing for a title. It’s obvious that the game isn’t played on paper. It’s our job to come together and mesh and get on the same page and build a chemistry and go out and win games. As far as on paper, we look great.”
Cousins knows all about how incredible a team can look before the season starts. The big man signed a one-year, $5.3 million deal with the Golden State Warriors last summer to form what many thought would be an unstoppable superteam once Cousins recovered from an Achilles tendon tear suffered Jan. 26, 2018.
He returned from surgery this past January and averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 30 regular-season games. He began to hit his stride in March and April. But in the second game of the first round against the Clippers, Cousins suffered another setback, tearing his left quadriceps while going after a loose ball.
“Actually, the game that I tore my quad … that day [I was] saying how amazing I felt,” Cousins said. “I really started feeling like myself again, and some unfortunate things ended up happening that night. I was really feeling good at the time. That is kind of a good thing because I know it’s possible to get back to that place. That is the positive I took out of it.”
Despite the initial fear that he would miss the entire postseason, Cousins returned to play in the NBA Finals in a limited role. He had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in Game 2 and 14 points and 6 rebounds in Game 5 — both victories for the Warriors.
“I’m working my tail off every single day,” Cousins, 28, said of his health. “My quad is 100 percent healed. I’m building it up every day and building up my lower body every single day, and I’m getting stronger, getting in better shape. My plan is to come into training camp in tip-top shape. My goal is to play 82 games this season. I want a full season of health and going to the playoffs, and whatever happens happens.”
Cousins is excited to be reunited with Davis. Cousins was traded to New Orleans from Sacramento during the 2016-17 season. During the 2017-18 season, he averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 48 games playing alongside Davis before tearing his Achilles.
During that season, Davis and Cousins played 1,095 minutes together before Cousins’ season-ending injury, and the Pelicans outscored their opponents by 5.3 points per 100 possessions when both were on the floor, according to NBA Advanced Stats.
Cousins said he doesn’t know what his exact role will be, but he will do whatever head coach Frank Vogel asks of him. Cousins is ready to prove himself all over again and establish a market for the big man next summer after trying to do that last season on a one-year deal with the Warriors.
“I’ve kind of been doubted my whole life, and I use that as fuel to continue to push every single day,” Cousins said. “One of my biggest fears is to be proven wrong by somebody that doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t have my best interest in heart.
“So with that being said, I’m always seeking to prove those type of people wrong.”