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Questionable Mental Toughness: DeMarcus Cousins and Lamar Odom

April 10, 2012

It is my opinion that players that have significant issues as it relates to mental make-up will likely not achieve their full potential.  Let’s discuss two players.

Player No. 1: DeMarcus Cousins

In terms of talent alone, I believe that Demarcus Cousins should be a superstar.  He has all the tools of a great big man.  He has the size, the shooting ability, and the talent to become not just an All-star, but a superstar in this league.  However, maturity questions have followed him in high school, college, and NBA.  See 3 articles below to give you examples. Let’s discuss his situation with coach Paul Westphal.  Regardless of what really happened, a player with a strong mental make-up would have been able to deal with the situation despite not being happy about it.  However, Cousins is so talented that he can and will continue to produce in the NBA.  He is one hell of a player and will continue to be one impressive player.  However, it is my opinion that he will not achieve his full potential of being a superstar.  If there were no immaturity issues, Cousins would have been drafted no. 1 overall in the 2010 Draft.  In terms of talent, it is absurd to think that Derrick Favors and Wesley Johnson were drafted ahead of him.

Player No. 2: Lamar Odom

In terms of talent, Lamar Odom is another player that has underachieved.  Unlike DeMarcus Cousins, Odom actually does not seem to have problems with his teammates.  He seems to be a pretty likable guy. However, it has had his share of problems.  An example dated as far back as 2001 when Odom was suspended for smoking marijuana.  The Clippers held a press conference where Odom didn’t seem to handle the negative publicity surrounding him well.  A more recent example is the vetoed Chris Paul to the Lakers trade that would have sent Odom to the Hornets.  He didn’t handle it so well that the Lakers had to trade him to Dallas a week later.  I understand that this is difficult but players with a stronger mental make-up would have dealt with it better and not go on to have a terrible season with Dallas.  Take Paul Gasol as an example who was part of the vetoed deal.  Gasol was probably affected by the fact that the Lakers were trying trade him.  However, Gasol toughed it out and kept continuing to place decent for the Lakers.  Why can Gasol handle the situation and Odom can’t? It’s called lack of mental toughness in Odom’s part.

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