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Monday / April 22.
  • Favors, Cousins Work Out for Nets

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins have been facing off against one another since the 10th grade.

    “To be honest,” Cousins said after their joint workout Monday with the Nets, “me and Derrick have been in competition our whole career. I mean it was always who was better, me or Derrick, me or Derrick? And after we went to college, I pretty much thought those days were over. But we’re right back at stage one.”

    Four years after they first faced off at at event in Atlanta, the two big men have shared workouts in Sacramento, Philadelphia and, now New Jersey.

    The Nets hold the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, while the 76ers pick at No. 2 and the Kings at No. 5.

    “I think we all walked out of here going, ‘These are going to be two really fine NBA players going down the road,'” said Gregg Polinsky, the Nets’ Director of Player Personal.

    “What you get with Cousins is a little more power. What you get with Favors is a little more pop [jump]. Both will work.”

    The 289-pound Cousins, 19, and the 246-pound Favors, 18, did not go head-to-head, but instead worked out against assistant coach Roy Rogers and showed an array of moves.

    The Nets are expected to select Favors, who was one-and-done at Georgia Tech, because he is a more natural power forward and can slot in alongside center Brook Lopez.

    Cousins played center during his one season at Kentucky.

    “I think I would fit good,” the 6-foot-10 Favors said. “They have Brook Lopez, another good young post player and I can help take pressure off the defense and rebound. I think I would have a good fit here.”

    Favors was criticized for being out of shape during his recent joint workout with Cousins in Minnesota, and he didn’t dispute that.

    “I’m not in game shape, but I’m in good workout shape where I can push through,” Favors said. “I just took it as criticism. It was good criticism so I just took it at that and just try to push myself through all the workouts.”

    Cousins played the four in high school but the five in college. He said he prefers to play power forward.

    “I prefer to play the four but I’m more comfortable at the five right now,” the 6-11 Cousins said.

    Cousins prefers to come off the block and demonstrate his shooting ability.

    “I think you get a chance to see Cousins step out and shoot the ball,” Polinsky said. “During the year, like he should’ve been, he was mostly on the block. He shoots it comfortably to 20 feet. I don’t think that’s a struggle for him whatsoever. He’ll probably be able to stretch that as he does it more and gets more repetitions.

    “Favors is still a guy that’s a work in progress in terms of shooting the ball with that type of range, but probably 15-16 feet he looks more comfortable.”

    Asked if Cousins can play the four in the NBA, Polinsky aid: “I think it’s obvious that he’s a very skilled basketball player. He’s got a high IQ, very intuitive. Obviously been well coached at Kentucky with Cal [John Calipari]. You can see that he can step out  and shoot the basketball.

    “What I would say is you leave that to your coach [Avery Johnson] because they’ll have a scheme and how they want to play guys. They know your personnel and you go from there.”

    John Greig, Cousins’ agent, said it also depends on what each particular team is looking for.

    “I know some GMs who think he’s [a] four,” he said. “Some think he’s [a] five and some think he’s four and five, so sometimes agents and people get hung up on ‘but he’s only this.’ It depends on the team.

    “Orlando’s got a four who’s Rashard Lewis. I don’t think he’s a four by any stretch but he’s playing the four.”

    Cousins has a reputation as a bit of a wild card personality-wise, but Polinsky said he saw nothing that would scare the Nets off.

    “I think that there’s an understanding about this guy,” Polinsky said. “I don’t think for one minute that he’s a bad apple. I think he’s different in how he expresses himself.”

    Cousins is one of five Kentucky players who could go in the first round, along with likely No. 1 pick John Wall, forward Patrick Patterson, guard Eric Bledsoe and center Daniel Orton.

    All except Patterson were freshmen.

    Cousins was asked if the frosh considered remaining at Kentucky for another year after their disappointing Elite Eight loss to West Virginia.

    “I was prepared to stay another year,” Cousins said.

    But after a conversation with Calipari, that changed. What did Cal say?

    “Basically he said, ‘If you want to help support my family, you stay. If you want to help yours, you leave,'” Cousins joked.

    As first reported by The New York Times, Bledsoe is the subject of an NCAA investigation relating to his grades and high school career in Alabama.

    “I don’t believe it will effect our program,” Cousins said. “I know Eric and i know his grades were legit so I’m not really concerned.”

    Cousins even admitted to wishing he were back at Kentucky at times.

    “That was one of the best years of my life at Kentucky,” Cousins said. “To this day I still just wish I was still there. I go on the Website and I see the incoming freshman and our favorite restaurant.”

    Can the new Kentucky freshmen group led by Brandon Knight and Queens native Doron Lamb replicate what his group did?

    “They got a chance,” Cousins said. “It’s another talented group of freshmen. If they come in and merge like we did they got a chance.”

    LANCE COMING WEDNESDAY

    After his workout Saturday with the Knicks, Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson comes to the Nets Wednesday.

    The 6-5, 220-pound Stephenson is projected as a late-first or early-second round pick. The Nets pick at No. 27 in the first round and No. 31 in the second.

    “He’s in our discussion,” Polinsky said. “We know he’s very competitive. He’s got an NBA body. He puts the ball on the floor. We’ll discuss him like we do probably eight, nine other guys that we’re looking at for our picks 27 and 31.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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