February 20, 2016, 4:36 am
Willie Cauley-Stein was benched for “defensive reasons” on Friday against the Nuggets, playing just 14 minutes with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting, three rebounds and three blocks.
If the Kings and George Karl had lost to Michael Malone’s Nuggets there would have been a ton of hand-wringing over the decision to play Cauley-Stein so little, especially when he looked awesome when on the floor. Karl’s media camp and the team at large have used ‘defense and effort’ as a way to deflect pressure off of scheme deficiencies, and Quincy Acy (zero points, three boards, 15 minutes) has been propped up as better defender between the two. Acy deserves to play the type of minutes he played tonight, but dropping the blame for defensive issues onto the rookie is blatant posturing with absolutely zero substance. WCS has top 135-165 value (9/8 cat) on the season in just 20.3 mpg, and if he gets the minutes he could have some late-mid round upside. If the Kings care about defense or winning, this guy should be playing 30 mpg.