As Kentucky heads into it’s game Saturday against the LSU Tigers, it’s inevitable that the comparisions start between the Cat’s DeMarcus Cousins and the other big fella that used to roam the basketball court at Baton Rogue: Shaquille O’Neal.
“Beyond the Arc” on MSNBC.com started the debate earlier today when they suggested the Boogie/Shaq comparisons not because of the production, but because of the amount of attention Cousins is drawing from the opponents and the number of fouls that Cousins draws. Of course, Cousins is bringing the production as well.
Despite being double teamed by Vanderbilt most of the game, he managed 21 points and 10 boards. You can’t question the productivity of Cousins as he leads the SEC in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage … by a large margin.
That enough got me curious enough to take a look and compare and contrast Shaq’s freshman year and DeMarcus Cousins’s season thus far and see how DeMarcus rates with O’Neal:
O’Neal 180/314 57.3%
Cousins 129/237 54.4%
Cousins 99/150 66.0%
O’Neal 85/153 55.6%
Overall the numbers favor O’Neal pretty heavily, although it is interesting that Cousins has gotten to the line a lot more than Shaq and he is already a much better FT shooter. Cousins is pretty competitive in the glamor numbers, leading in scoring and trailing by 2 rebounds a game.
The recent mock draft lotteries have Cousins inching up as a lottery pick, but there are some that think he could use some more seasoning. Dime Magazine recently had a story that said “DeMarcus Cousins needs to stay at Kentucky”. Let it be said that I do not support the writer’s slant that DeMarcus is a thug and needs to grow up — along with his aspersions on John Wall — but I do like the idea of DeMarcus getting another year under Calipari and I do think that he could possibly be next year’s #1 pick if he stays.
And it is interesting to note the increase in O’Neals numbers from his freshman to his sophomore season. Most of his numbers increased dramatically (especially scoring) in that second year of college. Check out the differences in O’Neal’s two seasons:
FG %: 57.3 to 62.8%
FT % : 55.6 to 63.8%
PPG: 13.9 to 27.6
RPG: 12.0 to 14.7
BLOCKS: 115 to 140
STEALS: 38 to 41
ASSISTS: 61 to 45
Of course, no one expects Cousins to double his scoring his sophomore season, but you can see that all of O’Neal’s stats improved drastically except for assists, and you would think that Cousins would see improvement as well.