One skill that intrigued the Kings about Willie Cauley-Stein prior to drafting him last month was his running ability because the Kings plan to run a lot under coach George Karl.
Through two summer league games, Cauley-Stein has been trying to play the role of sprinter as much as possible, and he's needed to take plenty of breaks.
Cauley-Stein, however, would not say conditioning is a concern of his. But it is something he's aware of after the Kings fell to 0-2 in summer league with a 98-76 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Cox Pavilion.
Cauley-Stein's focus is to “play had and come out when you can't play hard anymore” to not hurt the team.
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“I have the option,” Cauley-Stein said. “I take myself out. I’m going to play as hard as a can and once I get a little bit winded or a little bit tired I’m not going to try stay out there and make a mistake or give up points. So when I get tired I’m going to bring myself out for like a minute or two and then tell them I’m ready to go back in. That’s just the way I play.”
Cauley-Stein had 15 points, a rebound and a blocked shot in the game. He played 22 minutes, 29 seconds of the 40-minute game.
“And my minutes will get longer,” Cauley-Stein said. “I;ve been traveling a lot (leading up top the draft) coast-to-coast and now I’m just teaching myself to push through it. In the fourth quarter I pushed through it. I told the coaches keep me in and let me battle through everything and try to get my wind up.”
Kings assistant coach John Welch wasn't worried about Cauley-Stein’s conditioning.
“With him and Eric Moreland, both of them they’re great runners,” Welch said. “We played them together some today but a lot of times we're just trying to get one of them running to the rim every time. So each game his minutes will go up a little bit.”
Cauley-Stein would like to see his rebounding go up after being credited with only one against the Nuggets.
Rebounding was not considered one Cauley-Stein’s greatest strengths prior to the draft and he has only six through two summer league games.
“I can get more rebounds,” Cauley-Stein said. “It’s one of them things. You’re not the biggest guy no more, you’re not the fastest guy on the court no more so you've got to find a niche to get rebounds.”
Overall, the Kings continue to struggle defensively. They gave up 12 three pointers in the loss.
Denver (2-0) was led by rookie Emmanuel Mudiay with 19 points and 10 assists.
“We just gave them too many easy baskets, too many open threes,” Welch said.