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Willie Cauley-Stein Details How Vince Carter Helped Him This Season

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Veteran leadership!

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Willie Cauley-Stein is the most complicated King we’ve had in Sacramento since DeMarcus Cousins. You all know the Cauley-Stein story by now — He has all the raw tools for a successful modern NBA big that you could possibly ask for, with some underrated offensive talent to go along with it, but his inconsistencies from both an effort and production standpoint are pretty maddening. He’s a fine NBA player, with the potential for so much more than that.

Late Wednesday night, Cauley-Stein shared a post on Instagram detailing how Vince Carter helped him this season. A hot debate around these parts involves the importance, or lack thereof, of veteran leadership. What value did Zach Randolph add to the team this season? Garrett Temple? Vince Carter? Kosta Koufos? It’s a hard question to answer when we don’t have access to practice, or shootaround, or the locker room, or text conversations, or road trips, or private workouts. All we can really do is speculate, but it sounds like Cauley-Stein learned a lot from playing with Vince Carter this season.

Legends Never Die, They’re Just Reborn. December 18, 2017 Approximately 2:40am in a hotel in downtown Philadelphia I was laying in my bed manifesting my thoughts, goals I wanted to see happen in my future, wondering how does a young man like myself even begin to start thinking of asserting myself as one of the most elite players in the game of basketball. I text this man above and told him I want to be THE GUY.. He began to explain to me the sacrifices it takes to be THAT GUY.. The hours of work that nobody knows about, the friends and family you lose, the people you thought was in your corner from the jump that you had all sorts of get rich schemes together put on hold. I was blessed beyond measure to play along side this man. The three things I got out of my convo with VC was 1. Perfect YOUR craft. Whatever it is you think it is or want it to be perfect that shit. Give man no doubts you can handle the tasks your askin for. 2. Work on the mental side of the game. This point is the most intriguing to me because there are so many things that are going on that you think about and the key to all of it is being so mentally strong that you have no thoughts and everything is a reaction to someone’s action. Staying in a complete “in the moment” frame of mind is key. 3. Continue working on my body becoming stronger and healthier.. Without this point none of the others are relevant. You wouldn’t put unleaded gas in a Lamborghini ‍♂️ Thanks for passing it forward my G, Always Love ✊

A post shared by Willie Cauley Stein (@pr00fessortrill) on

The caption reads:

Legends Never Die, They’re Just Reborn.December 18, 2017Approximately 2:40am in a hotel in downtown Philadelphia I was laying in my bed manifesting my thoughts, goals I wanted to see happen in my future, wondering how does a young man like myself even begin to start thinking of asserting myself as one of the most elite players in the game of basketball. I text this man above and told him I want to be THE GUY.. He began to explain to me the sacrifices it takes to be THAT GUY.. The hours of work that nobody knows about, the friends and family you lose, the people you thought was in your corner from the jump that you had all sorts of get rich schemes together put on hold. I was blessed beyond measure to play along side this man. The three things I got out of my convo with VC was 1. Perfect YOUR craft. Whatever it is you think it is or want it to be perfect that shit. Give man no doubts you can handle the tasks your askin for. 2. Work on the mental side of the game. This point is the most intriguing to me because there are so many things that are going on that you think about and the key to all of it is being so mentally strong that you have no thoughts and everything is a reaction to someone’s action. Staying in a complete “in the moment” frame of mind is key. 3. Continue working on my body becoming stronger and healthier.. Without this point none of the others are relevant. You wouldn’t put unleaded gas in a Lamborghini ‍♂️ Thanks for passing it forward my G, Always Love ✊

This is encouraging stuff, with some statistics to back it up.

Before Cauley-Stein’s heart-to-heart with Vince Carter, through 26 games, he was averaging 10.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.7 steals, and 1.0 blocks on .489 shooting in 24.9 minutes per game with a TRB% of 13.2, a defensive rating of 110, and an offensive rating of 104.

After Cauley-Stein’s conversation with Carter, through 47 games, he averaged 14.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks, on .507 shooting in 29.7 minutes per game with a TRB% of 14.7, a defensive rating of 109, and an offensive rating of 106.

Some of that raw data bump is a product of the minutes increase, but there is still some real improvement here.

Do parts of my eyes roll when I read, again, that Cauley-Stein projects himself as some kind of elite NBA player? Sure, yeah. If he just focused on defense and rebounding, he’d be exactly what the Kings need at center moving forward. At the same time, I don’t want to crush a guy for having confidence and trying to max out his potential. It’s the Willie Cauley-Stein conundrum.

I’m particularly interested in seeing Cauley-Stein develop in area #2 that Carter told him to focus on. What we might perceive as on-court laziness from Willie could be more accurately described as thinking too much if you feel like giving him the benefit of the doubt. He needs to do a lot more reacting and a lot less thinking, particularly when it comes to defensive rotations and rebounding.

Right now, this is nothing but an encouraging Instagram post, but if this is the blueprint for Cauley-Stein’s offseason work, the Kings might have something to look forward to here.