Los Angeles Lakers: DeMarcus Cousins contributes as the 15th man

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

DeMarcus Cousins has been out the whole season for a torn ACL, but his contribution to the success of the Los Angeles Lakers goes beyond the lines.

While expecting to join the Los Angeles Lakers to form a super team that would compete for the championship, DeMarcus Cousins‘s season was cut short by a torn ACL before it started. The injury occurred to the same left leg where he suffered a torn Achilles two years ago and a torn quadriceps the past April.

Cousins hoped to reunite with his former teammates Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo on a contending team and show he was back to the level prior to the Achilles injury. His season was full of targets and expectations. Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to prove himself at any level and has been forced to watch another season from the sideline.

Anyway, the Lakers had 14 men on the roster at that time, keeping a spot open for any eventuality, and it comes just in handy when Cousins got injured. They used it to sign Dwight Howard as a replacement for backup center duties.

Fortunately for Cousins, the team was not forced to waive him, so that the big man could take advantage of Lakers’ facilities and staff to rehab his knee while on a contract.

DeMarcus has since been consistently spotted at UCLA Health Training Center working on his leg. He has also been a constant presence on the bench during games, cheering and interacting with teammates.

According to many of these teammates, despite his inactivity, he has been engaged all season long and an important presence in the locker room. In December he and Bradley were credited for Lakers’ focus and success on the defensive end.

Cousins recently progressed to light jogging and a small chance to play this year still remains.

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Returning to the court late in the season or during playoffs, after 6-9 months out would be of little help to the Lakers and even less benefit for the former Pelican.

Given his injury history the purple and gold better take a conservative approach and sit him all year in any case. Even if he really makes a full recovery and returns in time to suits up in 2020-21, his contribution will mostly remain in a supportive role on the bench as the 15th man.

The chemistry with his teammates is also an important factor as he will probably re-sign with the Lakers next year. DeMarcus’s All-Star days are way behind him. It is unrealistic at this point to hope that he will ever recover to his former level. That leg will never be the same anymore.

Next season he will need a team willing to give him a contract (the veteran minimum, obviously) and the chance to prove himself once more worthy of a roster spot. LA is the most obvious one given the year he is spending rehabbing in El Segundo, and the interest expressed in him before the injury, hoping to get back something of the old Boogie.

After all these injuries he will have to permanently reset his game to a supportive role and he could fit well in Los Angeles as one of the few missing pieces on Lakers’ roster, the shooting big man. The stretch-5 job which would spare much stress to his body and help him extend his career beyond what recent events suggest.

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Until that moment, DMC has just to settle for being a good teammate, encouraging his peers, giving advice and keeping contributing to building a chemistry that his fundamental to win a championship and will likely translate to next year.