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Evaluating DeMarcus Cousins' possible fit on the Miami Heat in 2021

Sportsnaut logo Sportsnaut 3/3/2021 Austin Konenski, Sportsnaut
DeMarcus Cousins on a court: Cousins is averaging 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes this year, and that would be a huge boost to Miami’s rebounding issues. © POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports Cousins is averaging 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes this year, and that would be a huge boost to Miami’s rebounding issues.

DeMarcus Cousins was released from the Houston Rockets one week ago after his salary for the 2020-2021 season was guaranteed by the team. The Rockets decided to first guarantee his salary before releasing him because of his exceptional behavior while he was in Houston.

The Heat have long shown interest in Cousins and pursued him during the 2019 offseason before he tore his ACL, but would they be interested now that he is a free agent again? According to Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the Heat are doing their due diligence with many big men and could be interested in Cousins.

While he may not be the destructive force he used to be with the Kings and Pelicans, he still shows that he can get it done and play exceptional basketball at times. If his behavior in Houston is also true, this would be great for the team if he were willing to accept a contract.

Cousins’ offensive fit on the Heat

Cousins averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 25 games with the Houston Rockets this season. Boogie shot a career-low 37.6% from the field, which is far below his previous career-low 43.0% in his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings.

However, Cousins is shooting 33.6% from the three-point line. That would be his third-best performance from beyond the arc in his 10th season. While the numbers aren’t very good when compared to other stretch bigs, it’s still a reasonable efficiency, which could improve in the Miami Heat’s system.

A big dip in his field-goal percentage most likely contributes to the number of triples that Cousins is throwing up on a nightly basis. Cousins shot 55.2% of his attempts from beyond the arc when he was with the Rockets. This, by far surpasses, his previous career-high, which was at an average of 34.0% with the Pelicans.

If we compare him to Miami’s current stretch big Kelly Olynyk, the statistics will show Cousins is a better three-point shooter this season. The 29-year-old big is shooting 43.0% from the field, but he’s making only 31.6% of his shots from the arc.

While it’s not a big margin for Cousins, it still shows that he can be decent on offense for the Heat. Olynyk shoots 67.4% of his shots from beyond the arc, and that would be a career-high if the season ended today.

Cousins also attempts 4.6 threes per game, while Olynyk attempts 5.8 per game. The 30-year-old center is shooting better with fewer shots. However, Cousins would most likely come off of the bench since the Heat like Bam Adebayo at center, and they don’t have another reliable big on the bench.

When Tyler Herro has been out due to injuries, Goran Dragic has been the only reliable shooter coming off the bench. Cousins could help with scoring the basketball if they decide to keep Olynyk in the starting five.

What would Cousins bring defensively?

Cousins is not the greatest defender out there, but he can still hold his own when needed. Cousins had a 106.3 defensive rating on the Houston Rockets, which would rank tied for third place with Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent.

Sometimes offensive and defensive ratings can be skewed due to the team performance, and this could be the case with Cousins since his opponents are shooting 48.3% against him. Coincidentally, the other players’ regular shooting percentage also lies at 48.3%, which wouldn’t be terrible for him.

Cousins is averaging 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes this year, and that would be a huge boost to Miami’s rebounding issues. The Heat rank 28th in the league with 42.4 rebounds per game. That would be a boon to their interior defense alone.

This does not imply that Cousins would be stellar defensively. His injuries have slowed him down, and there can be an argument that he is statically good defensively, but the eye test does show that he struggles at times.

The question the Heat will need to ask themselves is if it’s worth it to use the $4.7 million disabled-player exception on Cousins. The trade deadline is in almost three weeks, and there will be players on the buy-out market afterward.

There could be better options out there who would be willing to come to Miami for a higher salary than some other contenders. They are fresh off an NBA Finals run and have looked exceptional with Jimmy Butler back in the mix.

However, if they do decide that Cousins would be a good option, then by all means they should reach out and give him a contract. He would be a great piece off the bench and give them another reliable big man outside of rookie Precious Achiuwa.

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