Willie Cauley-Stein – PF/C, Kentucky
Size: 7-foot, 240 pounds
2014-15 stats (Junior): 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.2 steals, 1.7 blocks, 1.2 turnovers in 25.9 minutes (39 games).
Why he fits
The Kings need defenders, any defenders, and Cauley-Stein fits the bill. The lanky big man can guard inside, outside and chase down opponents on the break. The 21-year-old is particularly adept at slowing the pick-and-roll, the Achilles heel of Sacramento defenses in recent seasons.
Cauley-Stein lacks a back-to-the-basket game and is still developing a short jumper, but he’ll face no pressure to score immediately with All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins at his side. Sacramento’s front office must drool at the thought of their rookie blocking shots at one end, and the 2010 fifth pick posterizing helpless bigs on the other.
Plus it can’t hurt that Cauley-Stein and Cousins both played college ball at Kentucky.
Why he doesn’t fit
Sacramento has so many holes, their priorities are unclear. Drafting Cauley-Stein would fail to address the team’s glaring weaknesses with outside shooting, passing and playmaking. Additionally Cousins’ improvement as an interior defender may have lessened the need for another rim protector. In today’s NBA, stretch fours are all the rage, and a long range bomber in the Kings frontcourt could open the paint for Cousins even more.
Cauley-Stein is a project. He’s very raw on offense, and he must bulk up to handle NBA post scorers. Cauley-Stein will contribute more from the start than Thomas Robinson, but the Kings won’t like waiting around with the pressure to field a winning product by the time the new arena opens.
Likelihood he’s available
Fair. The Timberwolves (drafting first), Lakers (second), Knicks (fourth) and Magic (fifth) need frontcourt help, but Karl Towns and Jahlil Okafor are expected to go ahead of Cauley-Stein. Los Angeles and New York have major issues to resolve on the wing, and the Knicks and Magic will be shopping their picks in an effort to win now, per ESPN’s Chad Ford.