Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2015 NBA Draft: Top 10 Prospects — Willie Cauley-Stein

#8 Willie Cauley-Stein — 7'0" 240 lbs | 21-yrs-old | Center | Junior | Kentucky

Bio: Willie Trill Cauley-Stein—he recently legally changed his middle name to Trill—is one of the biggest personalities and best prospects in the NBA draft. After backing up Nerlens Noel as a freshman at Kentucky, Cauley-Stein emerged as a sophomore, swatting 106 shots (second in school history). After breaking his leg during the NCAA tournament, Cauley-Stein elected to return for his junior year and blossomed as the Wildcats’ elder statesman. He was one of college basketball’s best defenders on one of the sport’s all-time best defensive teams.
Willie "Trill" Cauley-Stein [Upside: DeAndre Jordan -vs- Downside: Greg Oden]

Strengths: Defense, defense, defense. Cauley-Stein is hands-down the best defender in this draft, and that includes guards and wings as well. He is an elite shot-blocker thanks to his awareness, vision and wingspan. He also shines on pick-and-roll defense and can handle guarding ball-handlers on the perimeter. He is comfortable playing from the low block to beyond the three-point arc defensively. His effort and intensity level were second to none on a star-studded Kentucky team last season and he has no problem diving for loose balls, setting screens or generally doing the necessary dirty work. Don’t sleep on his mid-range jump shot, either. His main offensive asset is as a rebounder, where he has good vision and length to track down boards.

Weaknesses: Offense, offense, offense. Cauley-Stein’s main offensive move in college was exploiting undersized centers for dunks. He has almost no moves in the low block and hasn’t shown an ability to back down defenders. He at times looks lost on the offensive end of the floor and can struggle with positioning. He has improved dramatically as a free-throw shooter—from 37.2% as a freshman to 61.7% a year ago—but must show more of an ability to consistently hit 15-footers if he wants to play big minutes as a pro. He has often been accused of being too passive, and indeed he had some truly bad games even a year ago at Kentucky. He’ll need to learn to give maximum effort each game during the significantly longer NBA season.

NBA comparison: Tyson Chandler — Sports Illustrated

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