When DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL during an offseason workout, it was sad for everyone involved with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The hope was Cousins would play a huge role in helping the Lakers win a championship and though head coach Frank Vogel has not ruled out a possible comeback during the 2019-20 NBA season, it still seems unlikely.
The Lakers have kept Cousins around and he has played a big role for the team, being involved in film sessions and practices while also being on the bench for most games. Cousins does have a reputation for having an attitude and being an overall hot head, but his teammates in all stops have always vouched for him and praised him immensely.
This is something that Jared Dudley is now experiencing. Dudley admitted to judging Cousins for his actions on the court as an opponent, but now sees him much differently, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic:
“He’s the perfect (example of) ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’” Dudley said. “Because I have judged him for how he acted on the court. To see him now, to see his maturity as a man more than a basketball player, it’s impressive.”
This can be the case for a lot of players throughout the league. Players such as Patrick Beverley, Draymond Green, and Marcus Smart are players who can annoy opponents but once they’re on your side, they are absolutely beloved.
The Lakers have supported Cousins throughout his injury and have worked hard to keep him involved and engaged with the team. His strong voice and ability to push the Lakers All-Star players is what stands out most to Dudley:
“His voice when it comes to pushing Anthony Davis,” he said. “Someone that’s an alpha dog who can tell LeBron to go at someone’s neck, or just encourage in his own way. A voice that a coach can’t instill.”
Cousins has been working for years to improve his image and win a championship. He has had awful injury luck over the past couple of seasons, but it says a lot about his character that he continues to contribute to the team despite not being able suit up.
Vogel insists there is still a chance Cousins returns this season but even if he doesn’t, he has a role on this team and his voice continues to push his teammates.