Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein has been taken by the Sacramento Kings with the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. There were some concerns about Cauley-Stein’s ankle, but that didn’t stop the Kings from taking him high because of his tremendous defensive ability. If DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t get moved, the duo of Cousins and Cauley-Stein could be fearsome for years to come in the paint.
At 7-feet and 240 pounds, Cauley-Stein pairs center size with great lateral quickness and athletic ability. Cauley-Stein is built like your modern day defensive center, long, agile and fluid with a Tyson Chandler-esque game. Cauley-Stein attacks both glasses, gliding all over the floor to finish alley-oops and putbacks.
However, Cauley-Stein lacks offensive touch near the basket and doesn’t have much in terms of post moves down low. He has a slow release on his jump shot and only shot 33.3 percent on two-point jump shots last season. He’ll most likely never be a perimeter threat, but a speed demon diving into the lane off pick-and-rolls is his most likely role at the next level, and he has the skill to maximize that ability.
Cauley-Stein impacts the game defensively in ways few other centers can. In the pace-and-space world the NBA now lives in, a defensive stud like Cauley-Stein is invaluable, which is why he’s viewed as a top center prospect in this draft.
NBA comparison: Tyson Chandler
2014-15 stats: 8.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 1.2 spg (57.2 FG%, 61.7 FT%)