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How DeMarcus Cousins’ return impacts the Warriors and the NBA

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors star big man DeMarcus Cousins will soon make his debut with the team after suffering a torn Achilles as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans last season. Once Cousins’ returns, there will be a tidal effect for the Warriors and the NBA.

Checking in on the Warriors: Golden State has won seven of eight since struggling over the previous two weeks. Getting a reinforcement like Cousins back will be huge. It does a few things.

  • The Warriors have not had a true inside force during this run of championships. As one of the most-skilled bigs in the game, Cousins brings that to the table in a big way. He averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists last season.
  • Golden State’s depth will now increase a great deal with Cousins in the mix. This pushes Kevon Looney to the bench and enables Jordan Bell to start spelling Draymond Green at the power forward position.

What this does in the West: Reasonably, only one team is out of the playoff race in the Western Conference. A total of 4.5 games separate the top seed from the No. 5 seed.

  • With Denver, Oklahoma City and Houston chasing Golden State for the top seed, Cousins’ return makes it more probable the Warriors will get home-court in the playoffs. Given their dominance at Oracle, that’s no minor thing.
  • Other contenders might now have to think long and hard about adding assets at the deadline. Should Cousins return 100 percent healthy, it puts others at a major disadvantage.

Cousins’ Impact: We never really talk about the individual in situations like these. But Cousins’ Achilles injury cost him a whole lot of cash this past summer.

  • Should Cousins return 100 percent healthy and help Golden State to another title, there’s a good chance he’ll cash in big time in free agency this summer.
  • On the other hand, further issues with said Achilles’ would make Cousins a major injury concern — furthering the possibility that he returns to the Warriors.
  • Cousins could also blend in well and perform at a high level. Under this theory, Cousins himself has noted he could re-sign with Golden State.