Willie Cauley-Stein was coveted leading up to last year's NBA Draft for his defense, but he reminded everyone during pre-draft workouts that his shot is "gold." Coming off a career-high 26 points on Friday, Cauley-Stein scored 21 points Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks. One shot was particularly golden in a sense that it looked like a vintage Dirk Nowitzki shot, over Dirk Nowitzki.
Following the game, which the Kings won 133-111, Nowitzki praised Cauley-Stein's development on the offensive end.
"I like him, he's long, he's active, he's got hops, but his midrange game got a lot better from when we saw him earlier in the season. He can knock down a shot, he can put it on the floor ... he made some big plays," Nowitzki told Sactown Royalty. "He's long, he's slender, he's very athletic, he's quick off the bounce."
Along the same lines, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said Cauley-Stein is "much improved" and that he has been "very impressed" with him over the last couple of games. DeMarcus Cousins is a big supporter of Cauley-Stein's offense. Lately, Cousins can be seen playfully yelling at the youngster to "shoot it" and dancing on the sidelines when his rookie does nail a shot (as seen in the clip above).
"Willie is out there creating his own shot, creating his own offense, showing he has the ability to do so," Cousins said.
Cauley-Stein is the first Kings rookie to have back to back 20-point games off the bench since the 1992-93 season when Walt Williams did it. He's averaging 6.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1 block in 19 minutes per game this season. Cauley-Stein has averaged 26 minutes per game over the last three contests.
With more minutes, Cauley-Stein has been "freed" up as head coach George Karl put it.
"His offense has been blessed by a lot of good plays by other people. He's got the lob ... kind of getting to the rim game going," Karl said Sunday. "He's worked really hard on understanding what he could do in the game ... he's freed up a little bit to take some chances that maybe he wouldn't have taken two weeks ago. But a lot of his success has been we've made really good passes and it's easy to make dunks and lobs."