The Sacramento Kings have had their share of issues this season. The Kings started 1-7 and seemed on the verge of an implosion that could’ve cost head coach George Karl his job.
But for now, Sacramento has righted the ship with three straight victories, and the play of star DeMarcus Cousins has been a big reason why. Cousins has scored 33, 40 and 36 points in the three wins, but what’s even more notable is how the big man is getting a nice chunk of his points: from behind the three-point line.
We heard the rumblings before the season that Cousins would start shooting threes, and he came out and made 4-of-5 from three in the opener. But then he went 0-of-5 from three over the next two games, sat out four straight games with an Achilles injury and then went 0-of-4 in his return.
In Cousins’s last three games, however, he’s made 9-of-15 from long range, putting him at 44.8 percent from long range on 4.1 attempts per game. This is a guy who’d made 11 three-pointers in his CAREER before this year. He’s already made 13 in 2015-16.
Look at this play from the Kings’ win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. After grabbing a rebound and passing ahead to Rajon Rondo, Cousins trailed the play and stepped right into a three:
The threat of Cousins shooting the three also helped him on a drive to the basket earlier in the same game:
Cousins has always been a killer scorer, but him adding a legitimate three-point shot is terrifying. He almost certainly won’t shoot 45 percent from three over the course of the season, but if he can be in the high 30s on good volume, that’s a huge weapon to have.
And it’s not like Cousins is eschewing shots close to the basket in order to bomb threes. Here are his shot charts from last year and this year:
Cousins is still taking nearly two-thirds of his shots in the paint, which is down from last year but only slightly. The big positive is turning those long twos into three-point shots. So while his overall field goal percentage is currently down from last year (46.7 to 44.3), his true shooting percentage is up from 54.5 to 56.2.
If Cousins keeps making threes at a high rate and starts to convert more of his opportunities around the basket, he’ll likely put forth his best season yet.