Cauley-Stein: ‘It’s not easy playing defense with five people especially with two or three’


Everyone in the media has pretty much already touched on how intelligent and talented Willie Cauley-Stein is. Therefore, I’ll save my words on complimenting the young rookie.

We had a good conversation before the Celtics game and we touched on many things but the emphasis was defense. We all know that’s Sacramento’s biggest weakness and it has yet to be addressed by George Karl’s defensive scheme.

After tonight’s debacle first quarter on the defensive end, Karl might not have much more time to fix this issue. The last time Boston scored 46 in a first quarter was Feb. 12, 1982 during the Larry Bird era, at San Diego.

That certainly won’t help Karl’s cause in keeping his job.

But when I would ask Cauley-Stein about the defensive scheme, he said that wasn’t the problem and emphasized lack of focus being his team’s biggest issue.

“The only times we really get beat by the three is by making mistakes. I just think we have to focus on making as little mistakes as possible and giving up 30 points on 3-pointers and offensive rebounding,” Cauley-Stein said.

He wasn’t kidding. The Kings were definitely not focused in the first half. The amount of wide-open 3-pointers they gave up was unacceptable and shouldn’t be excused by a defensive scheme.

We can talk all we want about it not fitting the personnel on this team and I would agree with that, but you can’t justify the guard’s defensive efforts on a regular basis.

It starts there and that’s something Karl has harped on all season long. He even pointed out yesterday in practice that he’s been battling with Rajon Rondo about defense.

I’ve said this all season long. Rondo’s effort on the defensive end has been nonchalant and unacceptable. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been great on the offensive end, but when you put your big men in tough situations like he does on a nightly basis that gets them in foul trouble.

He’s not alone because analytics show that Darren Collison hasn’t been much better even though he’s shown the most effort on that side of the ball. Marco Belinelli is not very good and Ben McLemore is too inconsistent. Karl proclaimed Seth Curry as the best on-ball defender on this team but rarely does he play.

But that’s where the Kings’ struggles begin. Rondo has the accolades as a very good defender but like I stated earlier, roaming around and waiting for steals won’t get it done. That’s just lazy basketball.

He was active and had many deflections today but he was beat off the dribble all game long. The way Avery Bradley defended Rondo in the second half should be a point of emphasis moving forward for this team. Nothing was easy for Rondo. Bradley was really aggressive on the defensive end and hardly gave Rondo any room to breath.

That is the way Bradley plays every single night. He might not score 25 points every night but he’s going to be a vicious defender and make it difficult on any guard in this league.

This quote is not directly at anyone but we see where Cauley-Stein is coming from.

“It’s just focusing on playing defense as a group instead of individually. It’s not easy playing defense with five people especially with two or three. Focus and effort. Once we fix that I think we will start rolling,” Cauley-Stein said.

Boy, was he accurate. He was in foul trouble early because of the lack of containing dribble penetration. In other words, lack of focus and effort.

How can you fix that?

“You’re not going to force anybody to do something they are not trying to do or not willing to do,” Cauley-Stein said. “You just have to be willing to and have that sacrifice for one another. If you do, then it works out in everybody’s favor and it’s a lot more fun to play like that but if you don’t, than you’re going to have the same results.”

I did mention that the rookie was a bright one in my lead. I guess that counts as a compliment.

The marathon continues tomorrow night against the Cavaliers.


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