By: Jordan Patton
Mason Plumlee Likely to Make Team USA Over Demarcus Cousins
In today’s world of social media supremacy, reactions from the American public have never been so readily accessible and for lack of a better word, vocal. When a Twitter user sees a tweet on the social media site that they do not agree with, their reaction is swift and extreme. Thursday evening was one of such occurrences for a large portion of the American public (read as: pretty much every non-Nets fan) as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the Nets’ Mason Plumlee is likely to make team USA’s 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup over the vastly superior Demarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings. Windhorst’s tweet was met with hundreds of replies from Twitter users, most of them seemingly outraged that coach Krzyzewski and USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo could possibly omit one of the Association’s top-5 centers in favor of an unproven Plumlee. Are these Twitter users completely out of line with their outrage and confusion? Of course they aren’t; on paper substituting Plumlee for Cousins makes very little sense. As we all know, however, the game is not played on paper.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that bringing Plumlee to Spain is an absolute slam-dunk (pun 100% intended) and that Colangelo and Krzyzewski would be insane to leave him off the roster because that simply is not the case. If Windhorst’s report is correct and Plumlee does indeed make the 12-man roster, he will be the least-talented player on the team and there is simply no denying it. Cousins is the better player by a wide margin and I don’t think even the biggest Nets homer in the world would try to deny it. Cousins is one of if not the best offensive centers in the league and nobody is trying to take that away from him. The issue with bringing Cousins to Spain has almost nothing to do with his skill-set (I say almost because Cousins does most of his work in one-on-one situations which he is sure to see very few of with the talent that the USA has in its backcourt) and almost everything to do with his attitude and mental-toughness.
Cousins has shown over the course of his career that he is quick to anger and not always able to control his emotions on the court. This could very well be disastrous for the USA if Cousins were to lose his temper during what’s sure to be an extremely physical matchup against the host-nation Spain. With Cousins you have an incredible talent who has a very large potential to cause trouble. Not to mention you add another superstar ego who will be upset if he feels he isn’t getting enough touches on offense. On the other hand you have mild-mannered Mason Plumlee who will work his butt off and try to be the best teammate he can possibly be. Plumlee is a perfect fit for coach K’s system (playing under him for four years at Duke certainly gives him an advantage in this aspect) and he will bend over backwards to do whatever is required of him.
I just want to reiterate the point that I am not advocating for Plumlee to make the team over Cousins. Yesterday on Twitter there was seemingly an endless torrent of tweets saying that choosing Plumlee over Cousins made no sense whatsoever, and that simply isn’t the case. Plumlee will probably never be of the same caliber that Cousins is, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fit for this team because he truly is. At the end of the day, we are all USA Basketball fans and we want our country to send the best possible team to Spain, not necessarily the 12 best players. If the best team includes Cousins, excellent, let’s go USA. If the best team includes Plumlee, excellent, let’s go USA (also means I’m getting a USA Plumlee jersey because those jerseys are awesome).