As we should have expected, the fact that JaVale McGee and DeMarcus Cousins matched up against each other in this weekend's Goodman League vs. Drew League exhibition has reignited the conversation over reuiniting John Wall with his college teammate. Wall himself added fuel to this fire when he said this after the game on Saturday:
But when asked who the better of the big man battle between his current teammate or his former teammate at Kentucky, Cousins, Wall replied, "Former. He was a beast."
That's kick-started the McGee/Cousins debate on here, with one side arguing that Wizards fans overvalue their players and the other saying that Cousins is a ticking time bomb. Thing is, I think this discussion, while fun, doesn't have a ton of practical ramifications. We're wondering which player might end up being better, but to stretch that logically, this has morphed into a conversation over which would be better for the Wizards. This is where I think a distinction needs to be made.
We're not dealing with robots here. We're dealing with human beings whose talents are cultivated by other human beings. It's no guarantee that Cousins comes here and develops in the same way he would develop in Sacramento. Maybe his feuding with his coach becomes a bigger problem because Flip Saunders is less confrontational than Paul Westphal. Maybe he and McGee don't complement each other. Maybe he throws Andray Blatche into even more of a funk. Maybe his friendship with Wall becomes a detriment if the rest of the Wizards' locker room becomes resentful that Wall consistently defends his friend publicly while not doing the same with his other teammates. These are just a handful of potential factors that could derail Cousins here.
Of course, there are also a few reasons why Cousins might be better here too. Still, we're dealing with a ton of hypotheticals. Given Ted Leonsis' "no jerks" policy, there's reason to believe that Cousins' development wouldn't go any better here than it would in Sacramento. Cousins is probably a good kid off the court, but it's going to take a while for his on-court outbursts to be tamed, if they are tamed at all. To throw that project onto a team with plenty of other projects to solve is problematic to me. (If you're wondering whether Sacramento's situation is that different from the Wizards', my answer is no, which makes me concerned that Cousins won't reach his full potential).
Sure, McGee has his own issues too. But McGee is also already on the team. The Wizards already know what they are dealing with and have already begun the process of trying to fix McGee's bad habits. With Cousins, the Wizards would be starting over with a (potentially) even bigger undertaking. The payoff may be greater, but if there's not a great chance that payoff will be realized in this environment, it's worthless.
That's why I say I'll stick with McGee and wish Cousins the best of luck on the opposite coast. If the Kings don't want Cousins after his rookie contract is up, it might be a different story. Until then, keep environment in mind and understand that the objections to reuiniting Cousins and Wall have to do with Cousins' ability to reach his potential in D.C., not with Cousins' potential itself.