SACRAMENTO -- If there is one major knock on Willie Cauley-Stein, it is his rebounding. The 7-footer out of the University of Kentucky is gifted with incredible athleticism and length. He can jump out of the building, but through his first two seasons in the league, the rebounding numbers have been less than stellar.
Coming into Friday night’s game against Washington, Cauley-Stein was averaging just 3.1 rebounds in a little over 15 minutes a night. He is seeing a major increase in minutes since the trade and his rebounding numbers have begun to slowly improve.
“It’s important for him as part of his growth,” head coach Dave Joerger said of his starting big. “Especially in the first half, he was really focused on rebounding outside his area, going to get balls that are up in the air.”
The aggressive approach by Cauley-Stein led to a season-high 13 rebounds on the night, to go with 20 points in 42 minutes of action. He was active and made a huge impact in the game as the Kings attempted to upset the Wizards.
“Today I played like it was going to be my last game and that’s it, that’s how it’s got to be every game,” Cauley-Stein told CSN California. “I’ve just got to play like it’s my last and be aggressive and be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.”
Cauley-Stein is building momentum. Since the All-Star break he’s averaging 13.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and nearly a block in 32.3 minutes a night.
“Each game, I’m telling you, I get a little more comfortable, it slows down a little more, I get a little more aggressive,” Cauley-Stein added. “I’m excited for what’s happening. I can feel the change. I can feel all the work paying off.”
Like the rest of the team, Cauley-Stein is trying to adjust to life without Cousins. The early returns are solid for the sixth overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, but there is still plenty of room for growth with the 23-year-old big.