DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most versatile big men in the NBA. Last year, his box-score numbers were impressive all the way around: 1,614 points, 207 assists, 831 rebounds, 109 steals and 91 blocks.
That feat has been accomplished just 20 times in the history of the NBA, and with the exception of Kevin Garnett, everyone who else who has done it is already in the Hall of Fame. There’s little doubt that Garnett will be there someday, too.
So, why not fight versatility with versatility here? Olajuwon did everything that Cousins does, but he did it better. More than anything, that’s true with his defense. Olajuwon had a unique combination of athleticism, length and strength that made him, in my opinion, the greatest defensive center in history.
Asked by Marvin R. Shanken of Cigar Aficionado to name the starters on his personal Dream Team, Michael Jordan answered:
But if I had to pick a center, I would take Olajuwon. That leaves out Shaq, Patrick Ewing. It leaves out Wilt Chamberlain. It leaves out a lot of people. And the reason I would take Olajuwon is very simple: he is so versatile because of what he can give you from that position. It's not just his scoring, not just his rebounding or not just his blocked shots. People don't realize he was in the top seven in steals. He always made great decisions on the court. For all facets of the game, I have to give it to him.
There were all those positive numbers, but Cousins was not so good with the turnovers, committing 3.5 per game.
In addition, his scoring strengths are on post-up plays and as the roll man in the pick-and-roll, per MySynergySports.com (subscription required). A full 50 percent of his field goals came on those two types of plays.
But Olajuwon was an amazing low-post defender, even handling all-time greats Shaquille O’Neal and Patrick Ewing in the NBA Finals. Certainly, he would handle Cousins, too.
Both in terms of stopping what Cousins does well and exploiting his weaknesses, Olajuwon would assure that Cousins has a very bad day.