SAN FRANCISCO -- Following a three-week absence, Warriors big man Willie Cauley-Stein says he will make his season debut Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns.
"Finally," he said following shootaround Wednesday morning.
Cauley-Stein, who sprained his foot just before training camp, joins a roster badly in need of his presence. With injuries to rookie forward Alen Smailagic (ankle) and center Kevon Looney (hamstring), the Warriors have been outscored in the paint 166-146 through three games. Worse, Golden State's defense has plummeted to last in the league. Following shootaround Wednesday morning, the big man hoped to make a difference defensively.
"It's tough to say without playing," he said. "I mean obviously, I'm the biggest guy out there so that mismatch won't be there anymore, which is like the biggest thing."
Since the injury, Cauley-Stein -- who signed a two-year $4.5 million deal in July -- has been relegated to a rehabilitation routine. In recent weeks, it's ramped up, including a three-day stint with Golden State's G-League affiliate in Santa Cruz. However, after missing the entire training camp, the big man has had little time to practice alongside his team.
"They kept me busy. They kept me always doing something," he said. "I was always doing conditioning or weights. Or just spot shots. So I haven't been just sitting around. I've been watching and being tortured."
Cauley-Stein said he isn't sure how many minutes he'll play Wednesday night, but says he's excited to be on the floor. Following four seasons with the Sacramento Kings -- including zero trips to the postseason -- Cauley-Stein says he's excited to be in a new environment.
"It's a different vibe culturally. They have a winning experience that lingers here," he said. "You can feel it when you walk in the building, you can feel it when you talk to fans. That becomes a target on your back. When everybody plays you. We're going to get everybody's best regardless of what they think of us."