Confidence is important for an NBA player, especially one still trying to carve out his niche in the league. But in many cases, that confidence can cross the border into delusions of grandeur.
Front-court players have it particularly hard these days, as the pendulum swing toward spacing and outside shooting have put a premium on guys who can stretch the floor and play out on the perimeter and still patrol the paint on defense.
Kristaps Porzingis is a prime example of a guy who checks all the boxes, so he’s quickly become a touchstone and standard-bearer that other players his size aspire to. One of those players is Kings’ big man Willie Cauley-Stein.
“I think I just gotta get more selfish,” said Cauley-Stein, who hit 2-of-6 shots, and is averaging 8.9 points this season. “Offensively, I gotta get to the point that I’m just going at dudes like him. Guarding him, and then watching his game, you take away, oh, this is what he’s doing. I have the same body size, the same skill-level, just transfer it over to a game now. But being behind in the race, he’s been doing it for a while.”
“This league’s all about situations,” Cauley-Stein said. “I went to a situation where I’m playing behind the best center in the league [DeMarcus Cousins], or I could’ve gone to somewhere where they don’t have a guy, and now you’re the guy, and you’re getting all the touches. That helps a lot.”
It’s certainly good to have ambitions, and he’s correct about being the right situation, but it’s also important to know your limitations. Cauley-Stein has attempted a grand total of five three-pointers in his career and converted none of them, and no amount of increased opportunities will likely change that.
Still, with the Kings in full rebuild mode, they should use this as a chance to find out exactly what they have in Cauley-Stein, although everyone involved would be wise to temper those expectations a bit.