Willie Cauley-Stein isn’t afraid of speaking up, and one thing that he hates is being labeled. Ever since he’s come into the league, he’s spoken often about how he doesn’t want to simply be another defensive-minded big man who blocks shots and rebounds. He wants to be multi-dimensional and get it done on both ends.
This mindset surfaced once more after Sacramento’s game against the New York Knicks in which the Kings young big man compared himself to Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, who came out in the same draft.
But while guarding Porzingis, Cauley-Stein believes he saw what he is capable of, even if the league has rarely seen a talent as unique as the Knicks’ franchise player.
“I think I just gotta get more selfish,” said Cauley-Stein, who hit 2-of-6 shots, and is averaging 8.9 points this season. “Offensively, I gotta get to the point that I’m just going at dudes like him. Guarding him, and then watching his game, you take away, oh, this is what he’s doing. I have the same body size, the same skill-level, just transfer it over to a game now. But being behind in the race, he’s been doing it for a while.”
To Cauley-Stein’s credit, he has made notable strides on the offensive end since being drafted. He’s developed a semi-reliable jump shot, is much more comfortable in the post, and is a willing passer. But Cauley-Stein continues to be fixated on offense when his strengths seemingly lie in doing all of the little things, especially on defense. It was in that potential that he was selected so high in the NBA draft.
That defensive potential still shines brightest when Willie’s at his best. The Kings wouldn’t have won against the 76ers if it weren’t for Cauley-Stein’s late game defense on Joel Embiid. Willie should be focusing on being an anchor for this team on that end, but instead he seems to think that his true potential lies in becoming a go-to option on the other end.
As much as Willie might want to, he likely never will be the kind of offensive superstar that Porzingis or DeMarcus Cousins are. But he can be their betters on the other end of the floor if he chooses to be.