It might be a stretch to say it's his calling, but something about DeMarcus Cousins says leader.

Yes, the same Cousins who has been labeled immature, a hothead and the reason Paul Westphal was fired has all the qualities of a leader.

The second-year center speaks his mind. He accepts criticism. And when he scowls during games, it's not rooted in a bad attitude but rather a desire to win as much as anyone on the court.

Also consider:

• Cousins has the backing of his coach, Keith Smart, who has encouraged his big man to do what comes naturally and lead in his own way.

• Chuck Hayes may be the team captain, but the Kings are becoming Cousins' team as he continues to improve.

• Cousins has worked to control his emotions while playing at a high level, which hasn't gone unnoticed by teammates and opponents.