It’s tough to develop young talent in a win-now atmosphere.
So Kings coach Dave Joerger is pleased with how second-year center Willie Cauley-Stein has dealt with a decreased role.
Entering Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics, Cauley-Stein had not been used in four games this season. He was averaging 11.9 minutes after playing 21.4 minutes per game as a rookie.
“It’s been good,” Joerger said of Cauley-Stein’s attitude. “I love Willie. He’s a really good dude.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Cauley-Stein has appeared in all three games on the current five-game trip (not counting Wednesday’s postponed game against Philadelphia), including six points in 12 minutes against the Celtics. He played three minutes Sunday at Brooklyn and 14 minutes Monday at Washington.
Since the summer, the coaching staff has wanted Cauley-Stein to improve his ballhandling and passing to fit into Joerger’s system, which asks big men to help facilitate the offense.
“He’s been doing good in his individual workouts and those kinds of things,” Joerger said. “Just keep trying to increase his skill level. He’s still a very young guy.”
Cauley-Stein has played in 81 career games, one fewer than a full season. He appeared in 66 games last season and earned All-Rookie Second Team honors.
Hot streak – DeMarcus Cousins entered Friday having scored 30 or more points in four consecutive games.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, it is the first time a King has done that since Chris Webber in 2001. Cousins had 28 points against Boston.
“(Cousins is) playing in space and attacking the basket,” Joerger said. “I think his 3-point percentage is pretty high in the last four games. It becomes a pick-your-poison type of deal when he’s out on the perimeter.”
Cousins entered Friday with the most attempts (77) and makes (30) from 3-point range on the Kings this season, shooting a respectable 39 percent from deep.
Cousins began attempting more 3-point shots last season. Former coach George Karl said he believed Cousins, a center, could shoot above 35 percent on 3-pointers as he got more comfortable.
Cousins’ shooting gives the Kings more options on offense, too.
“You have more space to play in the paint a little bit,” Joerger said. “And the (opposing) big has to make a decision if he wants to stay in the lane and keep backing up or get back out to DeMarcus if he’s popping.”
A little extra –Thursday’s practice in Boston had a little more contact than normal because of the postponement.
Joerger said he wanted the Kings to keep their timing after having three days off.
That game will be rescheduled for later in the season.