When Willie Cauley-Stein was drafted 6th overall in the NBA Draft two seasons ago, he and DeMarcus Cousins were supposed to build the tough, interior blueprint of the Sacramento Kings franchise for years to come. After one year into the experiment, it seemed as if there was a good chance of these hopes coming to fruition as Cauley-Stein had a successful rookie campaign and made substantial strides towards NBA readiness.
However, here in year two, we have seen, obviously, the annual dominance of Boogie, but Cauley-Stein has turned into a forgotten man on that Kings roster. Without ample playing time to show what he’s capable of, Cauley-Stein voiced his frustration to SacBee’s Ailene Voisin:
Willie Cauley-Stein fears only this: becoming the forgotten man. In what he terms an extremely “frustrating” season, with his playing time diminishing by the week, the second-year center wants to be recognized as one of the young Kings with a dynamic personality and on-court potential to match…
“I feel I was showing stuff at the end of last season that would make people say, ‘Oh, damn, they got a steal in the draft,’ ” Cauley-Stein said. “Now it’s like I took 25 steps forward and 30 steps back. It’s like my whole rookie season didn’t matter and I’m back at square one. Nothing I did last year is having an effect on my career. It’s been very frustrating.”
There’s no doubt Cauley-Stein has every right to feel this way. He showed plenty of promise his rookie season and his success should’ve carried into his sophomore campaign.
With a pedestrian 16-25 record and a long shot of making the postseason, Sacramento should certainly be experimenting with their younger pieces, especially when you consider the looming free agency period where we’ll see both Rudy Gay and Cousins hit the market.
Even though Cauley-Stein remains buried in the depth chart for now, hopefully, we see more playing time for the Kentucky product to show what he’s capable of going forward.
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