Not Chill, Trill: Willie Cauley-Stein Looks to be Out of Shape


Well, it looks like my calls for Willie Cauley-Stein to start at power forward on the Sacramento Kings this season were premature. According to James Ham over at CSN, Cauley-Stein’s conditioning is leaving a lot to be desired.

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This is the kind of thing that can really sour me on a young player–not having an NBA skillset yet is one thing, but not putting the work in to be able to compete is another entirely, and it sounds like that’s WCS at this point.

Ham definitely didn’t pull any punches when talking about Cauley-Stein over on the Koz and Bru show, which leads me to believe he’s right. Ham doesn’t seem the type to speak out that strongly and not be onto something.

"“He is going to open the season at 14 minutes a game, if he’s lucky. When you show up to camp and you can’t run up and down the court twice without being so winded you have to pull yourself off the court, then something’s wrong.” – James Ham"

Well, so much for starting. 14 minutes a game definitely isn’t nothing, especially for a rookie, but when Cauley-Stein was drafted he seemed like he would be able to come in and have an impact on the rotation right away.

Guys drafted in that range often do–Emmanuel Mudiay was drafted one spot after Cauley-Stein was taken by the Kings, and he figures to start and probably star for the Denver Nuggets this season.

Cauley-Stein certainly was never expected to lead this team, considering the great veteran players surrounding him, but I at least hoped he could have some sort of a role as a good, growing young player.

Instead it seems like he’ll be spending a lot of time riding the bench, and hopefully a lot more hitting the gym in his spare time. Cauley-Stein is a professional athlete now, and not being ready to play isn’t very professional.

Look at DeMarcus Cousins, who worked out literally every day this offseason. That may not be required, but it’s the golden example and it’s smart–Boogie has seen an increased workload since his rookie season, and he will at least match his last season average of 34 minutes per game this season.

I understand rookies not being able to play major minutes for a full season–the NBA season is far longer than any other in basketball, and it takes some getting used to.

But this early on Willie Cauley-Stein should be able to make it up and down the court more than twice, especially considering how much of his “revolutionary” game is based on athleticism.

If he can’t make it down the floor then he’s not going to be able to switch onto nearly any perimeter player, which was a big part of wanting him in the frontcourt alongside Boogie.

This is the first bit of disheartening news out of training camp and I really hope it’s the last–everything seemed to be going right for Sacramento. This isn’t the most insurmountable obstacle in the world, but it’s certainly not going to help anything this season.

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