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

DeMarcus Cousins was released from the Houston Rockets last week and the Miami Heat are one of the teams interested. How would Cousins fit in Miami's rotation?

Feb 11, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins (15) controls the ball under pressure from Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photos-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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DeMarcus Cousins’ offensive fit on the Miami Heat

DeMarcus Cousins, Miami Heat
Feb 11, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins (15) looks on against the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photos-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 25 games with the Houston Rockets this season. Cousins shot a career-low 37.6%, 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 47.3% from the field, but he’s only making 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.

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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 of the bench. DeMarcus Cousins could help with scoring the basketball if they decide to keep Olynyk in the starting five.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Heat, check out #HEATTwitter rumors, rankings, and news here.

What would DeMarcus Cousins bring defensively?

DeMarcus Cousins, Miami Heat
Jan 23, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins (15) and Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic (51) fight for position during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus 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. Ironically, 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 big boost 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 DeMarcus Cousins. The trade deadline is in almost three weeks and there will be players on the buy-out market afterward.

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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 DeMarcus 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 of the bench and give them another reliable big man outside of rookie Precious Achiuwa.