DeMarcus Cousins had already established himself as one of the game's best bigs, but to that point, had yet to gave a solid frontcourt mate. That is until Willie arrived and has slowly helped the Kings' frontcourt become one of the league's best.
That reached its climax Friday night during the Kings' 116-94 victory over the Suns. Cauley-Stein notched a career-high 26 points (11-19 FG, 4-6 FT), six rebounds, three steals and two blocks over 29 minutes. This was his first game with more than 20 points and the steals were also a career-high.
But Willie still has a ways to go before he's in the same breath as Boogie, who went off for 29 points (9-18 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 10-14 FT), 11 rebounds, an assist and a block over 28 minutes. The six-year veteran made a successful return from a one-game absence and looked unaffected by the troublesome knee that forced him to miss Wednesday's contest.
It was Cousins' fifth straight double-double performance, and tenth overall for the month as he's averaging 26.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.8 steals over the 12 March contests he's played in.
That's the good news. The bad news is Boogie may be about to have foot surgery and possibly miss the Rio Olympics. Following Friday's win, Cousins said he's been "walking up and down funny" and has some decisions to make regarding his health before he can commit to playing with Team USA in the Rio Olympics.
It doesn't sound too serious and is probably the typcial kind of minor procedures players frequently have in offseasons, but the bad thing this year is he won't have much time between said surgery and when he Olympics begin.
"I have been preparing," Cousins said when asked about Team USA following Friday's win over the Phoenix Suns. "I have some decisions to make before the end of the season. I've got to get some procedures done on my body - on my feet, we'll see."
Cousins is in noticeable pain following games. He walks gingerly on his oversized feet, and it's not without reason. At 6-11, 270-plus-pounds, Cousins' lower legs take a beating this season. From an early season Achilles strain to multiple rolled ankles, Cousins has played in 61 games this season with 10 games remaining.
"I've been playing with tendinitis in my feet all season," Cousins told a small gathering of reporters. "That's why you see me walking up and down funny. Hopefully this procedure goes well and I can start preparing for Team USA."
On the other side, Suns guard Devin Booker had a great outing with 26 points (11-21 FG, 2-8 3Pt, 2-4 FT), five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block over 34 minutes.
With an upset stomach keeping Brandon Knight out, Booker had even more scoring responsibility than usual. That may explain his career-high nine turnovers, but the rookie turned in a solid stat line otherwise. It was his third game with over 20 points in his last four, and the second straight game where he took over 20 shot attempts.
Oh, and Rajon Rondo finished with 12 assists to go with two points and five boards, a great night for the Cats overall.