Suggestion for Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle: 3. WCS needs more minutes
When fan-favorite Dwight Powell went down last season, the Mavericks scrambled to find frontcourt depth. To shore up their big rotation, Dallas acquired Willie Cauley-Stein from the Warriors for a second-round pick.
Cauley-Stein filled Powell’s shoes admirably after the starting center ruptured his Achilles tendon. WCS provides a similar skill set, including rim-running and shot-blocking.
Through 11 games this season, WCS has been better than Powell. This early in the season, it’s hard to properly gauge how well Powell will reintegrate into the rotation following his return from such a devastating injury. On top of that, he was again yanked from the court due to health and safety protocols.
Nevertheless, WCS’s impact this season is hard to ignore. He is second on the team in offensive rating and tied for second in defensive rating. Ultimately, he’s been one of the Maverick’s most effective players on both ends of the court.
His size and vertical has been a massive deterrent for any opponents trying to score in the paint. Players are shooting six percent lower at the rim when being defended by Cauley-Stein. That figure is tied with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo and ahead of renowned shot-blockers such as Mitchell Robinson and Serge Ibaka. That number doesn’t even encompass the would-be attempts that players decide against because of Cauley-Stein’s presence in the paint.
The more surprising stat is how good the Mavericks are on offense with Trill on the floor. The vertical spacing he provides in the pick and roll puts defenders in an impossible situation. They can either blitz the ball-handler and provide Cauley-Stein a runway to the rim, or they can shade WCS and leave space for Luka Doncic or any of the other Dallas creators to attack.
Cauley-Stein’s acquisition has turned what used to be a weakness into an overabundant strength for the Mavericks. Between KP, Dwight Powell, James Johnson, Maxi Kleber, and WCS, Dallas has a glut of talented big men. Regardless of KP and Powell’s eventual return, Carlisle needs to find more minutes for Willie Cauley-Stein.
Next: No. 2