Sacramento Kings Draft Willie Cauley-Stein, Was That The Right Pick?


The NBA draft has finally come to a close and the Sacramento Kings selected Kentucky center, Willie Cauley-Stein. I was at the Kings draft party in downtown Sacramento and let me just say this, the crowd seem to be a little nervous when they saw their team on the clock.

Let’s back track just a little bit to get to why these Kings fans seemed so on edge for their team. It all started with the Los Angeles Lakers at pick No.2 ( I mean whats a good Kings story without mentioning the Lakers?). Many speculated that the Lakers would select center Jahlil Okafor out of Duke, but instead they chose to select point guard D’Angelo Russell out of Ohio State.

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Of course that pick lead to the Sixers having to draft “best player available” with Okafor, which brought us the Knicks selecting at four. For months the consensus pick was guard Emmanuel Mudiay, but the last few weeks leading up to the draft the player that ran up the draft boards was the international 7-foot-2 knockdown shooter, Kristaps Porzingis.

The Kings were rumored to be possibly attached to Porzingis and it seemed some fans were a bit disappointed that he was taken so early, while others seem to have their minds now set on guard Mario Hezonja.

Well then hope for Hezonja was short-lived as the Orlando Magic would select him fifth overall, leaving players such as Emmanuel Mudiay and Justise Winslow available to the Kings at six. Two top-tier prospects on almost everyone’s mock draft (who many projected as top 5 picks) were still on the board.

Still the Kings well they instead went with their gut and selected Willie Cauley-Stein.  It was the safe pick, but was it the right pick?

Oh I completely understand the fascination for Cauley-Stein, he is a high energy, shot blocking, young prospect, that has the potential to be a perfect fit next to DeMarcus Cousins. Though scouts believe that he has an extremely limited offensive skill set, Cauley-Stein is very adamant that the only reason why he never showcased his offense is because being at Kentucky he didn’t need too.

On this Kings roster he technically won’t need to showcase that offense here either, though it would help if he had a consistent 15 foot jumper in his arsenal. Cauley-Stein would be more viewed as having that Tyson Chandler role, and being that back up help to Cousins down in the low post. The Kings are hoping that these two former Wildcats can become their strong one-two punch down on their front line.

But did the Kings pass up on too much potential?

Emmanuel Mudiay was considered a top 4 prospect for months heading into this draft and the need to upgrade the Kings backcourt is something that needs to be addressed before heading into next season.

Mudiay could have definitely solidified those problems with his ability to play both the one and two spot on the court.

With Darren Collison on  the roster both he and Mudiay would be a lockdown tandem for opposing teams. The Kings were one of the worst defensive teams this past season, especially when it came down to giving up open jumpers.

With the direction the league is heading in, more teams are relying heavily on their three point shooting, so having two defensive savants defending your perimeter, the team could have breathed a little easier.

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  • Speaking of the new direction the league is heading in; if the Kings drafted Justise Winslow, he would have made this Kings roster (or at least the starting 5) start going down that trail. Coming out of Duke everyone knew two things about Winslow- he is a tremendous defender and he is a knockdown shooter (41% from deep).

    With George Karl as the Kings head coach, his style of space and pace is at some point going to be implemented in to this Kings roster. Now I know there are questions of moving Rudy Gay down to the four spot, but picture a lineup of Collison, Ben McLemore, Winslow, Gay, and Cousins. That’s a lineup you look at and assume that fits Karl’s system to a tee.

    The last bit of potential the Kings missed out on were trades. So many rumors were buzzing around prior to the draft, were the Kings going to trade Cousins, were they gonna move back, will owner Vivek Ranadive buy a second round pick? But yet nothing.

    Of course the Kings probably shopped around, but because there were so many rumors that honestly were more hits to the team than anything, I think the front office was hesitant to make any move.

    Still it would have been nice to see them maybe move back in the draft and get maybe a player like Myles Turner, and try to shed a contract of maybe a Carl Landry or Jason Thompson.

    Nevertheless, the Kings want to win now and after seeing Willie Cauley-Stein through his final college season and during his pre-draft workout, the team (or Vlade) felt this was the right decision.  I guess we will find out come next season.

    Now it’s up to you; do you think the Kings drafted the right player? 

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