Willie Cauley-Stein
Willie Cauley-Stein
26-Year-Old CenterC
Golden State Warriors
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Cauley-Stein should have no shortage of motivation this coming season, as long-term job security eludes him for the time being. The fifth-year big man signed a one-year deal with the Warriors for slightly more than the league minimum after four so-so seasons in Sacramento to open his career. The seven-footer played more up to his size over his last two campaigns, averaging a career-best 8.4 rebounds last season and pairing them with a new high-water mark in steals (1.2). However, he's disappointingly averaged less than a block per game in each pro campaign thus far and also drained a career-worst 55.6 percent of his free-throw attempts last season. The center position has mostly taken a back seat offensively in Golden State for the last several seasons, given the plethora of talent elsewhere in the starting five. Yet, with Klay Thompson likely out until sometime after the All-Star break with his knee injury and Kevin Durant (Achilles) now in Brooklyn, that may change to an extent in the 2019-20 campaign. Whether Cauley-Stein will see enough minutes to capitalize is firmly up in the air, however. A fellow big who's almost three years younger and has considerably more experience in coach Steve Kerr's system, Kevon Looney, will be splitting time with Cauley-Stein at center. Cauley-Stein certainly has much more prototypical size for the position than the 6-foot-9 Looney, but the latter has proven capable of handling center duties in the way the position is deployed in Golden State's fast-paced attack. Ultimately, a drop in production across the board for Cauley-Stein is very possible, considering Warriors centers in the Kerr Era have typically averaged considerably fewer than the respective 10.6 and 9.1 attempts the big man put up during his last two Kings seasons. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $1.7 million contract with the Warriors in July of 2019.
Expected to start at center
CGolden State Warriors
September 10, 2019
Cauley-Stein is expected to start at center for the Warriors, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
Slater was asked about the Warriors' projected starting five in a mailbag piece, so this is more so his opinion, rather than a definitive statement from coach Steve Kerr. Nonetheless, it's a minor vote of confidence for Cauley-Stein, who the Warriors brought over from Sacramento in free agency to help fill the void left by the departure of DeMarcus Cousins. At the end of the day, Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney figure to split minutes relatively evenly, though Slater notes that Looney will likely be the one on the court in closing situations.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
During his third year in the league, Cauley-Stein saw the most run of his career. He started 58 of his 73 appearances, garnering 28.0 minutes per contest. As a result, he set career highs nearly across the board by averaging 12.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 61.9 percent from the charity stripe. He flashed a diverse skillset, able to put up significant stats in every category. Cauley-Stein was able to rack up 11 20-point games, 13 games with double-digit rebounds, six games with at least five assists, seven games with at least three steals, and four games with at least three swats. He should be in line for a similar workload this year, though the added presence of Marvin Bagley, who could play some center, could limited Cauley-Stein’s upside. Still, as a starting center who is expected to see minutes in the mid-to-upper 20s, Cauley-Stein is worth a look in the later rounds of most Fantasy drafts.
Cauley-Stein emerged last season after the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins, creating a vacuum at the center slot. After the All-Star break, Cauley-Stein garnered 30.9 minutes, posting 12.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the field. While he isn’t a great scorer, the 7-foot 24-year-old has demonstrated solid upside as a rebounder and defender. He’s also a willing passer, racking up five games last season with at least five assists, all of which occurred in the 25 games he appeared in after the All-Star break. Though the Kings added veteran Zach Randolph to the mix heading into the 2017-18 season, Cauley-Stein still projects to be the starting center over him, Kosta Koufos and Georgios Papagiannis. Due to Sacramento’s center depth, it’s somewhat difficult to peg what Cauley-Stein’s exact role will be next season. Though, his heavy workload last season indicates that coaching and management believes in his potential as a long-term starting option. There are likely safer options from a workload perspective in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, but he still has legitimate sleeper potential.
Cauley-Stein might not have received the accolades some of his fellow lottery picks did as rookies, but he validated the Kings' belief that he'd add some stability to the frontcourt, particularly for his work on the defensive end. While his averages of 5.3 boards and 1.0 block in 21.4 minutes per game didn't stand out, Cauley-Stein's seven-foot, 240-pound frame served as a constant deterrent for the opposition to attack the rim. Cauley-Stein's game remains less developed on the offensive end, but he did well to convert on most of his limited opportunities, averaging 7.0 points per game on 56.3 percent shooting from the floor. It seems unlikely that Cauley-Stein will develop enough of a perimeter game to raise his offensive floor much higher, but even as a Tyson Chandler-esque type who can protect the rim and excel at finishing near the basket, the 23-year-old would provide fantasy appeal through his rebounding, shot blocking and field-goal percentage. With DeMarcus Cousins expanding his offensive repertoire to the three-point line in 2015-16, he and Cauley-Stein are able to share the floor together, which was something of a concern heading into last season. Look for Cauley-Stein to see his minutes rise during his sophomore season, which should benefit his numbers across the board.
In an effort to improve upon their 27th ranked defense, the Sacramento Kings made the junior center out of Kentucky their selection with the sixth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The 2015 1st team All-American averaged 26 minutes, 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks while shooting 57 percent from the field last season. Cauley-Stein's best asset is his ability to defend in the paint as well as on the perimeter, drawing comparisons to athletic NBA centers like Tyson Chandler. His biggest weakness is a lack of development on the offensive end. Cauley-Stein has limited range as a shooter and needs to refine his repertoire with his back to the basket. He has shown promise as a free-throw shooter, having improved his free throw shooting from 37 percent as a freshman to 62 percent during his junior year. His role in the Kings rotation is still to be determined this season. There is a natural void in the frontcourt with Jason Thompson being jettisoned to Philadelphia, but head coach George Karl has mentioned that he would like to see more of Rudy Gay as a stretch four. Regardless, there should be ample opportunity for playing time, as Sacramento lacks appropriate depth behind Demarcus Cousins and will need Cauley-Stein on the court in order to improve their defense. After drafting WCS, the Kings also signed center Kosta Koufos in free agency, a player coach George Karl started at center back in Denver, so it's likely WCS will be coming off the bench behind Koufos to start the season.
More Fantasy News
Inks deal with Warriors
CGolden State Warriors
July 2, 2019
Cauley-Stein agreed Tuesday with the Warriors on a one-year contract. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. Per Zach Lowe of ESPN.com, Cauley-Stein's deal is worth slightly more than the league minimum.
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Hits open market
CFree Agent
July 1, 2019
The Kings rescinded Cauley-Stein's qualifying offer Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.
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To become restricted free agent
CSacramento Kings
June 29, 2019
Cauley-Stein was extended a qualifying offer by the Kings on Saturday, making him a restricted free agent, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reports.
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Quiet in finale
CSacramento Kings
April 11, 2019
Cauley-Stein offered eight points (3-3 FG, 2-2 FT) and five rebounds across 17 minutes in the Kings' 136-131 loss to the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
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Off injury report
CSacramento Kings
April 6, 2019
Cauley-Stein (personal) is not listed on the injury report ahead of Sunday's contest against the Pelicans.
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