The Most Important NBA DFS Implications of DeMarcus Cousins’ Warriors Debut
Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins
- DeMarcus Cousins will make his Golden State Warriors debut tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET against the Los Angeles Clippers.
- Boogie was a high-usage player in Sacramento and New Orleans, so how will he fit in Golden State? How will he affect the fantasy output of his teammates?
All eyes will be on Golden State tonight when All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins makes his Warriors debut.
He sent shockwaves throughout the NBA when he decided to join the Warriors this offseason, creating arguably the most dominant starting lineup ever assembled.
The Warriors already feature two of the top-five players in the NBA and have won three of the past four NBA titles, and the addition of Cousins has the potential to make the current Warriors the absolute best version of themselves.
Needless to say, not everyone was happy about it.
The Warriors got him absolutely sick. 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/AKTuHS0S6f
— TheWarriorsTalk (@TheWarriorsTalk) October 22, 2018
The addition of Cousins to this already-dominant team obviously has massive real-life implications, but what does it mean from a fantasy perspective?
Let’s dive in.
What does this mean for Cousins?
When we last saw Boogie, he was putting together his best fantasy season while sharing the court with Anthony Davis in New Orleans. He averaged a career-best 5.4 assists per game, which bodes well for his ability to fit in with Golden State’s pace-and-space offense.
That said, Cousins is not known by the public for his passing ability. He’s known for being an absolute bully with the basketball in his hands and dominating defenders in the post and off the dribble. He averaged a usage rate of 32.0% through his first eight seasons and has finished in the top four in usage in each of the past five seasons.
It’s not surprising that he dominated the ball when he was in Sacramento – they surrounded him with one of the worst supporting casts in the league on a perennial basis – but Cousins was still determined to get his when sharing the court with AD.
Cousins averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute and posted a 28.7% usage rate in that situation, while Davis managed 1.21 DraftKings points per minute and a usage rate of 25.9%. That’s pretty crazy when you consider what Davis has done this season.
Of course, he was sharing the court with just one superstar in New Orleans, and he’ll be sharing the court with four All-Stars in Golden State. Cousins will almost undoubtedly have to post a lower usage rate in order to make that situation work, and less touches will mean less fantasy points.
He could make up for it by doing some additional work on the glass, where Golden State has been pretty mediocre this season. They rank 13th in team rebound rate, and no one on the team has an individual rebound rate greater than 15.1%.
Cousins averaged 12.9 rebounds per game last season and has posted a rebound rate of 19.0% for his career, so he should be able to help them in that department.
Fewer designed plays in the post for Cousins will also likely lead to more 3-point attempts than we’ve seen in the past. He attempted a career-high 6.1 three-point attempts per game last season and converted them at a 35.4% clip.
That’s pretty impressive for a big man, but he’s still got a ways to go before we start considering him the “third Splash Brother:”
Overall, Cousins will almost certainly see a decrease from his average of 55.93 DraftKings points per game last season, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where he falls below 40 once he’s playing full minutes.
What does this mean for the Warriors?
The addition of Cousins obviously puts a damper on the stock for the rest of the team. Kevon Looney has started 20 of the past 21 games at center for the Warriors and has averaged a usage rate of just 11.7% over that time frame.
Cousins should double that at a bare minimum, which means that Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are going to have to cede a few shot attempts. Green barely shoots the ball to begin with, so the majority of that usage figures to come from Curry, Durant and Thompson.
Of the trio, Thompson figures to be the most affected. Steve Kerr has started to stagger his rotations so that Curry and Durant play and sit at the same time for the majority of the game.
That means that Thompson will likely be paired with Cousins for long stretches, and he’ll likely lose the few opportunities he has per game to run the show without an additional superstar.
Curry can also fall back on his assist ability and Durant can focus on rebounding and shot-blocking, while Thompson provides virtually all of his fantasy scoring by getting buckets. He still be capable of exploding from time-to-time, but his night-to-night fantasy output figures to be significantly lower.
Green will also likely see a reduction in value. He’s essentially the anti-Thompson: Virtually all of his production comes from his ability to pile up peripheral statistics. Cousins can gobble up rebounds when on the court, so Draymond likely won’t have to do as much in that department.
Cousins also gives Kerr the option to pull Draymond at the end of games. His shooting has been a major liability this season – he’s making just 27.0% of his 3-point attempts – which allows defenses to leave him virtually unguarded and pack the paint.
They wouldn’t have that same luxury with Cousins, which would theoretically make life easier for Durant and Curry in those situations. That seems like an extreme option – Andre Iguodala will likely be the one who gives way to Cousins in crunch time – but it’s something Kerr should think about at a bare minimum.
Finally, Cousins’ return likely means the end of fantasy viability for Looney, who has actually been a decent player this season. He’ll still see minutes off the bench, but it seems doubtful that he’ll see more than 20 per game when Cousins is back at full strength.
What does this mean for tonight?
In his first game back, the Warriors have suggested they will play Cousins in short bursts, so he definitely will have his minutes monitored. We have him projected for around 20 minutes currently in our NBA Models, although that still means he’s likely underpriced on FanDuel at $4,600.
On DraftKings, it’s tougher to play him at a price of $5,500 given the uncertainty of his minutes and usage.
This is still an intriguing game to target with a slate-high — and almost historically-high — over/under of 242. For full projections on all players in this game, check out our models, and also make sure to visit our Player Props tool to see if there’s any value on Warriors players with Cousins’ debut.