Basketball / Sports

Kings' Cousins not on All-Star team -- again

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was disappointed last year when he learned he wasn't picked for the Western Conference team for the NBA All-Star Game.

Of course, he had plenty of strikes against him then. His scoring and rebounding were down, he had been suspended by the league and the Kings more than once for his behavior, and his team had one of the worst records in the NBA.

In his fourth year, Cousins is having his best season, and he's put the drama of his first three seasons behind him. Yet that wasn't enough to warrant the inclusion of perhaps the league's best offensive center in the NBA's showcase exhibition. Cousins wasn't one of the seven reserves selected by coaches and named Thursday to the Western Conference team.

When the announcement was made, the Kings were on their flight to Dallas for tonight's game, so Cousins wasn't available to comment.

One thing that hasn't changed for Cousins is the Kings still have one of the league's worst records. And as with many of the postseason honors, the NBA rewarded players from winning teams Thursday. Brooklyn's Joe Johnson is the only one of the 14 reserves who plays for a team with a record worse than one game below .500 entering Thursday's games.

Unless Cousins is added as an injury replacement, the Kings' streak of not having an All-Star player will stretch to 10 years. Peja Stojakovic and Brad Miller played in the 2004 game.

Cousins leads all centers in scoring, but center is no longer a position used when picking the roster, so he was lumped into the "frontcourt" category.

Cousins is averaging career highs of 22.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals. He's shooting a career-best 48.8 percent from the field and leads the Kings in scoring, rebounds, steals and blocked shots (1.2 per game).

The only other players averaging at least 22 points and 11 rebounds are All-Star forwards Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge, however, plays for Portland, which has been near the top of the West standings all season.

Love plays for Minnesota and was voted into the game as a starter by fans. Though the consensus is that the Timberwolves have underachieved, they have remained around .500 and are ahead of the Kings in the standings.

Kings coach Michael Malone, who has touted Cousins' play, said Wednesday he wouldn't be surprised if he didn't make the team.

"When it's out of your hands and there's nothing you can do, you hope for the best," Malone said after the Kings' 99-89 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, their fifth loss in a row.

Opposing players, most notably Miami's LeBron James, also have praised Cousins and supported him as an All-Star.

But some coaches believe an All-Star selection should also reward team success, and the Kings are 15-30 and at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Thursday's announcement doesn't end Cousins' chance to be an All-Star. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was voted as a starter but is injured, leaving at least one spot to be filled.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul was added as a reserve, but he's also injured, though he has said he would like to return from his shoulder injury in time to play in the All-Star Game.

Assuming Paul plays, that leaves one spot on the Western Conference team. New commissioner Adam Silver, who takes over Saturday, will pick injury replacements.

New Orleans forward Anthony Davis, Phoenix guard Goran Dragic, Memphis guard Mike Conley and Cousins are among the players Silver likely would consider.

Based on statistics, Cousins and Davis are best qualified, but both also play on losing teams.

(c)2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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