I want to point out something messed up with Cauley-Stein that I hope he or his agent will actually read and take as a wake-up call that he can claim his status in the league, but it is 100% a matter of his own drive to actually do it.
I attended in person the Fox vs Ball game in which Fox had 13, Ball had 12 and missed 2 consecutive free throws so we all won jumbo jacks. Cauley-Stein had something like 26 that game. Yeah, it was the pre-Bron Fakers, but he was LIT!
But every single time I’ve heard him interviewed (and when I lived in Sac before my recent move, I listened to him appear on Grant’s show a lot), the dude sounds like he’s floating on a cloud totally disconnected from the reality we as fans see.
I have started listening to "Pull Up with CJ McCollum" podcast, which is fantastic. I am going back to the beginning to listen to all the episodes now after I heard his most recent episode, a two-parter in which he interviewed KD. Toward the end, they talk about players they think are really talented and on the rise. Regarding bigs, they mention Embiid, Jokic, Nurkic, Adams, Capela, and... Cauley-Stein!
KD: You know who I like a lot? Is Willie Cauley-Sein. I feel like he’s the next one of those guys.
[NOTE: Capela was the player mentioned immediately prior, and it was literally just in passing, not as in-depth as what they now discuss about Willie]
CJ: Yeah, oh, he’s springy-springy—
KD: Oh, my goodness.
CJ: —like crazy springs.
KD: He fast, too.
CJ: Right. Gets off the ground.
KD: Beat you up the floor.
CJ: Gets off the ground as quick as anyone I’ve ever seen.
KD: He gets ‘em like—once they get better in Sac, they’re gonna see his athleticism is ridiculous.
You hear what the back-to-back Finals MVP and a highly respected high-BBIQ SG are saying about you, Willie? That’s awesome!
But are you going to step off of the cloud and grit and grind? It’s offseason right now, sure... but why do I remember hearing multiple mid-season interviews with Grant and Doug where they suggested the most basic basketball advice, and you acted as though you had never heard anyone say it before?
We know from KD and CJ that most players—not all, but most—read ALL the social media about them. Do you want to have a bunch of "blog boys" suggesting the Kings should trade you for Mo Harkless? Granted, blog boys gonna do that for all players regardless... but are you actively doing anything to make the doubters second-guess their doubts? You are a #6 overall pick, and draft analysts said Vlade reached to take you. I’ve personally posted during game threads, "ABSOLUTELY THE CORRECT DRAFT PICK". Prove I was right, prove Vlade was right, but moreover, do it for YOU. You need to find that intrinsic motivation. Another thing CJ and KD discussed was how long the 82-game season is and how you have to find ways to push on through and stay locked in.
Trill is your legal middle name, so live up to it. You chose that middle name yourself. It’s like that corny Steph ad for Kaiser: "but my mind is where every battle I’ve ever fought has been won or lost". It’s a bit simplistic and not entirely true, but the message certainly does apply to some things.
Kevin Durant says you’re the next great young athletic big who’s gonna break through. CJ says you get off the ground as fast as anyone he’s EVER seen. These aren’t "blog boys"—they’re your peers (and for the time being, at a league-respect status far above you).
I’m certainly in the group of Kings fans who want you to stay with the team for a long time... and I just want to see the tangible proof for sure that you truly want to do this as a career and are not Darko. Have other interests, of course! I’m not one of those fuddy duddies who thinks players aren’t supposed to have lives outside basketball. But when you’re talking about basketball, fans should hear more urgency to get better from you and fewer excuses or procrastinations. No one wants too much of a hard-ass teammate, either, but there is a happy medium in between this "floating on a cloud removed from the world" attitude and "being too demanding of my team and myself and unable to feel joy". Surely, there must be something in between.
Kings fans are some of the most loyal in all of sports (I know other fans are also great, but I’m just saying). Just because some "blog boys" suggest trading you doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to change the narrative. This team has been stuck in a rut for a decade, and, like it or not, you are now the longest tenured current King. We have Fox, Buddy, Bogi, Harry, and now Bagley, too. You don’t have to be a 7-ft Michael Jordan. We just want to see more consistency, and we want to see that praise that KD and CJ have for you live in action every game.
It’s sweat. It’s hard work.
But if you do it, you’ll get a massive payday. If you don’t, well, hey—you’ll still be just fine. But you will have missed an opportunity to make your name known around the league.
Honestly, it’s a higher compliment that KD and CJ spoke so highly of you because they have actually faced you several times. And I fully remember that game when you beat Embiid—it was awesome! What bulletin board material do we need to give you to get you to play like that every game, or almost every game. Of course you’re going to have off nights, but you can’t have an off season. The off-season is summer: you need to be ON for the season.
As always, you cannot control the front office, players always get scapegoated, etc., yes, I understand. But this team is perfect for what you provide. We have a lot of shooters and the coaching staff is working out the best ways to utilize you. If you cannot claim the respect you deserve from the league as a member of the Sacramento Kings, that’s a wasted opportunity, and it just would bum me out.
One final note more for the other readers than for Willie: apparently KD believes that "blog boys" means only surface-level fans. I find this odd because surface-level fans certainly don’t do painstaking research, and they were the ones who largely dismissed him when he was in a smaller market. Surface-level fans literally switch from Kobe to Steph jerseys IN THE ARENA, lol. "Blog boys" have actually always loved KD’s game... it’s truly bizarre that he is upset at the nerds who spend hours reading stats to better explain why KD is so great. But KD always needs that chip on his shoulder, I guess. A lot of his criticism sounded more like what I hear from traditional media and Stephen A. Smith, but ok, KD, blame it all on the "blog boys".
And to be fair to him (this part does concern Willie again), we as fans in general often do not consider the humanity of players themselves when we have these impersonal discussions. KD and CJ themselves literally did the same thing when talking about the Cleveland Browns and fully recognized the irony. But when it’s their own sport, I understand—they don’t like hearing it. And KD’s point that SOME "blog boys" are muscling their way in via clickbait is totally valid. His dismissal of blogs altogether is unwarranted because cable sports news and their non-blog, headline websites are the biggest pushers of the type of content KD criticizes, but yes, it is true that there are blogs out there that pull nonsense content out of thin air, largely about how KD responded on instagram to someone instead of anything about actual basketball.
I’ll get off my soapbox, now.
(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)