By Dave “Deuce” Mason
Cousins off to nice start-Expectations are very high for Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins.
He signed a contract extension this offseason, the team brought in Shaquille O’Neal to mentor him and head coach Michael Malone in early October said that he believes Cousins is an all-star caliber player.
Cousins is averaging 24 points, 9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.8 steals in just 26 minutes per game in the exhibition season.
“He’s very focused this year. He’s going out there to try to prove everyone wrong and his demeanor is totally different this year,” said guard Marcus Thornton.
“He’s going out there to be the man, and the big man we know he can be.”
The most noticeable improvement has been on the defensive end where Cousins is making strides with his post defense, and he’s improved his transition defense.
Malone said Cousins and the rest of the team still have a long way to go on the defensive end but he’s encouraged by the progress.
“I think fans that have been watching this team for the last three years, I think they would be the first ones to tell you that DeMarcus looks like a different play out there on both ends,” Malone said.
“He is setting the tone for us offensively. He’s trying to set the tone for us defensively; I love his effort so far and it’s something he has to continue to do on a daily basis.”
Preseason wins-On Friday’s show (12-3 p.m) on KHTK Sports 1140, some fans were a little miffed that more wasn’t being made about the Kings 3-1 preseason record.
New Kings head coach Michael Malone on Saturday told reporters that wins don’t mean much during the exhibition schedule.
“I don’t take anything from the wins. Yes, the wins are nice and I think that enables the guys to buy in a little bit more because they’re seeing results,” Malone said.
Malone recalled the 2010-11 preseason as an assistant in New Orleans when the Hornets (now Pelicans) ended the preseason 1-7—tied for last in the NBA.
The Hornets started the regular season 8-0 and made the playoffs as a 7th seed in the Western Conference.
Malone said he uses the preseason as an opportunity to see different matchups, lineups and game plans.
A look ahead: The Kings have three preseason games left before the home opener on October 30th against the Denver Nuggets.
10/20-@ Portland, 10/23-vs. Warriors and 10/25-@ Clippers.
You can listen to Deuce on KHTK with Jason Ross from 12-3 p.m. and follow him on Twitter: @DeuceMason