August 27, 2017, 12:18 pm
Hoop Ball Kings is proud to bring you the fifth installment of a brand new series that we are rolling out in the lead up to the 2017-18 NBA season. Over the next two months we will be doing a roundtable series which involves all three of our writers here at Hoop Ball Kings. We’ll be discussing various topics including season projections for each player on the Kings roster, record predictions and more.
First and foremost, we will run through every player currently on the Kings roster and provide our personal predictions for their output this season.
Willie Cauley-Stein is entering his third season in the league with the Kings, and he is already the longest tenured player on the current roster; purely due to all the recent moves over the past two seasons. He started 21 games last season, all of which coming following the All-Star break (for obvious reasons) and he produced a mixed bag for Sacramento. He would break out for games where he stuffed the stat sheet and looked like the best player on the floor, but then he would follow it up the next game with two points and two rebounds.
Inconsistency was his biggest flaw throughout the season, and many were writing him off after a forgettable start to the 2016-17 campaign where he couldn’t stay on the floor. In 72 games last season, he posted averages of 8.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game on 53.0 percent shooting from the field. His rebounding is his biggest detriment and reeling in just 4.5 boards per game is a big reason why he didn’t get as many minutes as he probably should have.
This is going to be a big season for Cauley-Stein. Will be blossom into the Kings’ center of the future? Or will he be another high draft pick turned role player in Sacramento?
Stat-line Prediction: 9.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.1 blocks. 52.3% FG, 0% 3PT, 69% FT.
Cauley-Stein should start showing more improvement this season. He made strides on offense near the back end of the 2016-17 season but his rebounding continued to hold him back big time. He’s going to need to step up his efforts on the glass if he wants to stay on the floor consistently. I don’t think he will start at center to begin the season too, he’ll have to earn that starting spot and we’ll know fairly early on whether he’s got a shot to take it.
I’ve projected his stats to pretty much go up across the board. I have faith in Cauley-Stein to put it all together and be the guy everyone thought he would be out of college, and beyond that too. He’s got all the tools to be an effective player in this league, and in my eyes it’s only a matter of time. With that said though, his poor rebounding still really scares me and getting off to a good start in that department is going to be key in regards to his progression.
Playing next to Zach Randolph won’t make that easy either, because we all know what he’s like on the glass. If anything, the fact that it’s that way could be a good thing for Cauley-Stein as it will teach him to fight and go get the ball on the glass. The mindset, athleticism and length is all there. He just needs to add some more muscle to help him gain an edge in the rebounding department and then everything should start to come together for the 24-year-old.
Stat-line Prediction: 13.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.3 blocks. 53% FG, 10% 3PT, 66% FT.
Cauley-Stein will more than likely never become the type of player DeMarcus Cousins was, and that’s fine if he can do what needs to be done around the rim. His reach is obviously one of the biggest advantages he has. His size, on the other hand, is an issue as he doesn’t have the most dominating build.
Willie has averaged around 20 minutes in his first two seasons, but I expect him to range closer to 30 minutes per game this season and that’s why his stats will have a bit of an inflation compared to his rookie and sophomore seasons in the league.
His interior defense will be something to watch for as he only averaged 0.6 blocks per game last season in just under 19 minutes per game. If he isn’t able to manipulate shots and block some as well, he may not see much playing time.
As a starter last season, Cauley-Stein proved his potential is there. In 30 minutes he averaged 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds, so if he can put up numbers around that vicinity, the Kings have to look at it as a big positive.
Stat-line Prediction: 10.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks. 50.5% FG, 0% 3PT, 70% FT.
Entering his third season with the team, Willie Cauley-Stein will likely be given plenty of opportunity to win a spot in the starting rotation. He made some major improvements offensively during the second half of last season, but the team will need him to be more of a presence defensively.
If Cauley-Stein can be more of a factor on the glass, something he struggled with during his time with Kentucky as well, then he could definitely find himself playing 30-plus minutes per game. He has a wide range of outcomes next season, and the team will want to see what they have in him heading into the final year of his rookie deal in 2018-19.
Missed the previous installments of Hoop Ball Kings’ Roundtable Series? Click HERE to read them.