Could you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? You can ask Pau Gasol about that. The Bulls big man made an appearance with Elmo and friends last week, and while the program might be directed towards a younger audience, you’d be surprised how much we could still learn. Headed into the 2014-2015 season, there are many questions left that Big Bird and the gang might be able to answer for NBA teams. I’m sure they’d be happy to help.
DeMarcus Cousins: Playing Nice
Nobody can question DeMarcus Cousins’ talent. Last season, he averaged a ridiculous 23 points and 12 rebounds a game, making a strong case for best center in the league. What remains in question, however, is his maturity. Last season, the Kentucky product led the league with 16 technical fouls that resulted in his suspension. He’s averaged almost 15 per year through his first four seasons. Sure, losing as much as the Kings have must contribute to the frustration—Cousins has yet to have a season where the Kings win 30 games. But this year, he’s set the goal for himself to get tech’ed no more than five times. He even had put up a sign up above his locker as a reminder.
With Rudy Gay getting more practice with the team after a full offseason training camp and new additions Darren Collison and first round sharp-shooting pick Nik Stauskas, the Kings have the potential to be better this year. Cousins and Gay played together over the summer for team USA and show promise to be a better combo than Bert and Ernie. There’s legitimate hope for this roster, but a lot of it relies on Cousins doing well in games and remembering to play nice.
While everyone may want a turn, there are going to be games this season where sharing won’t come easy in Cleveland. This isn’t Elmo’s world—and it certainly isn’t Kyrie Irving’s or Kevin Love’s world either. No, Cleveland is LeBron’s world. Irving and Love were far and away the best and at times the only options on their teams in the past. But together with LeBron, they’ll have to learn that neither of them are the number one option and that there’s only one ball to share between the three of them. If the Cavs chemistry is going to pan out, egos will have to be set aside which may mean an unhappy star now and again.
The Heat owe much of their success to Wade and Bosch giving up the reigns to The King. Irivng and Love should take note of that as they head into this season. Not everyone can be the man. Only one of them can, and for the first time in their respective careers, it’s neither Irving nor Love.
Knicks: Trying New Things
Trying new things can be scary, whether it be eating your vegetables or getting a brand new offense and first-year head coach. After winning just 37 games and missing the playoffs last season, it was time for the Knicks to try something new. Derek Fisher is following the Jason Kidd career path, immediately retiring and going straight into the coaching ranks. Given Jason Kidd’s luck, that could scare Knick fans pretty badly. While it’s yet to be seen if the Knicks will improve at all, they’re definitely heading in a different direction with Fisher at the helm.
For Carmelo Anthony, the hope is that getting more help will mean that he doesn’t have to carry the load every night and will lead to better ball movement. Last season, despite have a top scorer like Anthony, the Knicks offense was living like Oscar the Grouch. The only difference is they didn’t enjoy it one bit. They were 20th in points per game and 28th in assists, free throw attempts and free throws made. It’s time for a change in New York, and the Knicks know it. A new offense, a new head coach and maybe a new attitude for Carmelo Anthony could help the team improve big time this year.
Sesame Street is one of the most successful teams ever assembled. They’ve molded stars like Elmo and the Cookie monster, developed chemistry, racked up wins and, let’s face it, they’re pretty darn fun to watch. Some NBA players and teams could learn a lot from these talented puppets. Busy with the training camp and pre-season, it’s doubtful Cousins, the Cavs or Knicks will find the time to take a trip to Sesame Street. Though with the long season coming up soon and lots of questions still unanswered, it may be worth taking the moment to brush up on the lessons the show can offer.
Follow David on Twitter @dshug24 and listen to him on “The Friday Morning Blitz” Fridays from 10-11 am