One of the most interesting personalities to ever play for Kentucky, Willie Trill Cauley-SteinHe’s never been shy about speaking his mind and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. Cauley-Stein will play abroad next season with Openjobmetis Vareseteam of the Italian league, and started his presentation press conference with a few words about the NBA:
“I chose to come to Europe because of the more tactical way of playing compared to the one-on-one basketball played today in the NBA, which is conditioned by the players’ desire to produce personal statistics. Here in Europe every game and every ball is important, not like in the NBA where all 82 games are the same…”
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sportando
Trill is not the first basketball player to draw strong contrasts between the NBA and international basketball. Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic famously said that it was easier to score more points in the NBA because of the rules and space.
Just like in college, there is no three-second defensive violation in Europe, so the big guys can camp out with impunity and protect the rim as much as they want. In turn, this leads to a busier street and less room for guys like Doncic to work in space.
The former lottery pick will also receive an “Amen!” cries from members of the Big Blue Nation who cite the league’s propensity for playing one-on-one as the reason they’re not that interested in watching it. While it’s true that nearly every NBA team has evolved toward a philosophy of spreading the floor, allowing their phenomenal athletes to isolate themselves when possible, the one-on-one style is no longer as prominent as it used to be, with teams like the Golden State Warriors who incorporated a tremendous amount of team-oriented basketball (and unreal shooting) into their dynasty.
This style isn’t just found in the NBA either. As noted ad nauseum on this website and on the radio, college basketball has followed a similar trend, emphasizing spacing, outside shots and layups as the preferred way to score.
Are NBA regular season games not that important?
As for Cauley-Stein’s criticism that an 82-game season diminishes the value of each game, he’s right. The NBA has all but admitted as much with the introduction of an in-season tournament, something borrowed (or stolen?) from Europe and other international leagues across sports, in an attempt to spur more excitement during the winter doldrums.
They even added financial incentives for players for this new tournament to create more competitiveness and make these games mean more. It will work? Should college basketball consider something similar? Time will tell, but it’s hard to argue with Willie’s point of view here.
That being said, if he had a contract offer in the NBA, he would surely accept it.
Cauley-Stein spent all of last season in the G League, save for a pair of 10-day contracts with the Houston Rockets where he never saw the court. In 13 regular season games with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he averaged 8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks.
Then say the elected Going to play in Europe after spending no time in the NBA last year might be a bit much, or it might just be a good way to endear himself to his new organization and city. Regardless, it’s great to see that he found a place where he enjoys and feels like he can contribute on the court.
“Here in Varese, however, I must say that I have found a great organization and strong teammates, I am very happy. I feel a lot of passion from the city and the fans around us; They make me feel like a superstar, which I’m not. However, all this support can only help us step on the court and give our best.”
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sportando
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