One of the most interesting personalities to ever play for Kentucky, Willie Trill Cauley-Steinhas never been shy about speaking his mind, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Cauley-Stein will play abroad next season with Openjobmetis Varesea team from the Italian championship, and kicked off his introductory press conference with a few choice words about the NBA:
“I chose to come to Europe because of the more tactical way of playing than the one-on-one basketball that is 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 82 games are equal…”
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sportando
Trill is not the first basketball player to draw sharp contrasts between the NBA and international basketball. Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic said it’s easier to score more points in the NBA because of the rules and spacing.
Similar to college, there are no three-second defensive violations in Europe, so big players can camp with impunity and hold the edge as much as they want. In turn, that leads to a busier lane and less space for guys like Doncic to work in space.
The former lottery pick will also receive “Amen!” ” shout members of the Big Blue Nation who cite the league’s propensity for one-on-one games as the reason they’re not as interested in watching it. While it’s true that almost every NBA team has evolved toward a spread-court philosophy, allowing their phenomenal athletes to isolate themselves when possible, the one-on-one style is no longer as important as ever, with teams like the Golden State Warriors incorporating a huge amount of team-oriented basketball (and unreal shooting) into their dynastic journey.
This style is not only found in the NBA. As noted ad nauseam on this website and on the radio, college basketball has followed a similar trend, emphasizing spacing, outside shots and lay-ups as the preferred way to score.
Aren’t NBA regular season games just as important?
As for Cauley-Stein’s criticism that an 82-game season diminishes the value of each game, he is correct. The NBA has all but admitted this with the introduction of an in-season tournament, something borrowed (or stolen?) from Europe and other international leagues across all sports, in an effort to further boost of enthusiasm during the winter doldrums.
They even added financial incentives to players for this new tournament to create more competitiveness and give more meaning to these games. Will it work? Should college basketball consider something similar? Time will tell, but it’s hard to argue with Willie’s point here.
That being said, if he had a contract offer in the NBA, he would most certainly accept it.
Cauley-Stein spent all of last season in the G-League, except for two 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.
So to say that he selected Going to play in Europe after not playing in the NBA last year might be a bit of a stretch, or it might just be a good way to endear himself to his new organization and city. Either way, it’s great to see he’s found a place he loves and feels like he can contribute on the field.
“Here in Varese, however, I must say that I found a great organization and solid 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 get on the pitch and perform at our best.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sportando