Lakers Nation Draft Prospect Watch: Willie Cauley-Stein

Lakers Nation Draft Prospect Watch: Willie Cauley-Stein

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Willie Cauley-Stein
Position: Power Forward/Center
School: University of Kentucky
Height: 7′
Weight: 240 pounds
Wingspan: 7’2″
Current Prospect Rank: 4th (Draft Express), 8th (Chad Ford), 11th (NBADraft.net)
Projected Draft Position: Top-10
Player Comparison: Tyson Chandler
Feature Game: Saturday, December 27 vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals

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Strengths:

Willie Cauley-Stein is the type of athlete who has the potential to make a difference on either end of the court in the NBA. He can add quick points in transition when fed the ball after a blocked shot or steal thanks to his size and speed.

A seven-footer who can jump out of the gym, Cauley-Stein gets the majority of his points around the basket. He can catch the ball at its highest point, which helps with outlet passes in transition, entry passes to the post in a half-court set or when fighting to pull down rebounds.

Cauley-Stein has been touted as one of the best paint protectors in the NCAA due to his awareness and natural athleticism, averaging 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals a game in his collegiate career. Cauley-Stein is also known as a good pick-and-roll defender due to his natural athleticism, at times switching onto guards comfortably.

The Wildcat forward/center has shown improvement in his three years at Kentucky, as he is currently having the best season of his collegiate career and has improved in four statistical categories, points per game (10.5), rebounds per game (6.7), steals per game (1.8) and free-throw percentage (61).

Weaknesses:

Cauley-Stein’s offensive game will need to see improvement if he is to be thought as one of the best big-men at the NCAA level. Working on refining his post moves, improving his shooting technique and taking care of the ball will go a long way in the young man’s progression.

Known more as a finisher around the rim, Cauley-Stein has left a good amount of points on the floor due to his shooting technique. In over two years, he has never taken a three pointer at Kentucky and has shot 46 percent from the free-throw line throughout his career with the Wildcats.

Cauley-Stein has had trouble boxing out for rebounds in the post due to his technique and lean 240 lb. frame. There are times where he doesn’t seem to have the requisite lower-body strength to gain position against a more stout opposition.

Fit With Lakers:

The Los Angeles Lakers are in dire need of a rim protector who can patrol the pain. Someone like Cauley-Stein could develop and play alongside his former Wildcat teammate Julius Randle to give the team a new outlook as the Lakers attempt to transition back into a championship team.

Having a young rotation consisting of players like Cauley-Stein, Randle, Ryan Kelly or Ed Davis on the floor could give the team multiple scoring options as well as capable defenders in the paint. Cauley-Stein can come in, defend both power forward and center positions and help add transition points right away.

Kentucky is currently ranked No. 1 in the country, but will travel to Louisville to face their fierce rivals, the 10-0 Louisville Cardinals this Saturday. Cauley-Stein and the Wildcat defense will be tested, as four of the top scorers for Louisville are averaging 58.1 points per game collectively.

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