This article will be about Sacramento Kings’ big man Willie Cauley-Stein and what grade I think he deserves for his 2017-2018 campaign.
A Royal Pain continues its series on evaluating how each player on the Sacramento Kings performed during the 2017-2018 NBA season. This article will focus on the third-year player, Willie Cauley-Stein.
For the season, Cauley-Stein averaged 12.8 points and 2.4 assists per game while making over 50% of his shot from the floor.
I would say overall Cauley-Stein was able to upgrade his offensive game compared to last season. He was able to get better in aspects like extending his shooting range and developing the ability to set his teammates to score. Although it is great to see Willie develop these skills, especially at his position, he did not upgrade in the aspects of his game that were more significant to his role, in my opinion.
When seeing Cauley-Stein play these last three seasons, I always envisioned him as a DeAndre Jordan-type player who would get most of his scoring success in the interior. Although Trill showed flashes of dominating around the rim, he spent a good amount of time this season outside the paint area.
I hope next season Cauley-Stein is more motivated to play around the rim as well as the Kings developing an offensive system that has the seven-footer focusing more in the paint. In my mind, Cauley-Stein has the athleticism and length to dominate around that area which would definitely enhance the Kings’ offense going forth.
Willie’s efforts on the defensive end were solid this year. For the season, he recorded a 108.6 defensive rating which was ranked second amongst his teammates who played more than ten games. Cauley-Stein was also able to average seven rebounds, over one steal, and almost one block per contest.
Although Cauley-Stein had a good year defensively, he has not reached his defensive potential in my mind. He is not even close.
This season, Cauley-Stein showed he has the ability to be a rim protector and active rebounder, but those moments only came in spurts. He needs to be more consistent guarding the interior and closing in on shots to help the Kings’ defense improve. Hopefully, Cauley-Stein can be that goalie that the Kings desperately need. He definitely has the physical tools to be that kind of asset.
Overall, Cauley-Stein was one of the better players on the Kings this season. But with that being said, improvement is still needed from him.
Although Willie showcased versatility in his offensive game, he needs to focus more on being a better interior scorer. Defensively, Willie had his moments of being an elite defender, but consistency was an issue.
These are aspects of Willie’s game that I think he should work on this summer. If he is able to show growth, then I believe it will take his game and the Kings to another level next season.