Should Kentucky‘s Willie Cauley-Stein decide to enter into the 2014 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks have to take him with their first round pick. Atlanta will have the 15th pick in the upcoming draft, which is exactly where the talented center prospect from Kentucky is projected to be taken. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hawks don’t even get the opportunity to select Cauley-Stein when you consider his potential at the next level.
There are not a lot of seven footers who possess the skill set and athleticism that he shows every game. With the Wildcats, he proved to be a bit of a raw talent on the offensive end, but on defense his game should be able to transition right away to the NBA. Cauley-Stein is a legitimate shot-blocking threat down in the low post, who will also grab every rebound he possibly can on both ends of the floor as well. Factor this in with his height, and you have a potential game-changer at the next level.
Yes, it might take him some time in order to polish his offensive skills, but in the meantime I can’t think of a better team than the Hawks for him to fit in immediately. With Atlanta, Cauley-Stein will not be expected to come in and provide scoring. Players such as Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver are pretty good at putting some points up on the board. Instead, coach Mike Budenholzer will want him to be the interior presence this team has lacked for quite some time.
In college, Cauley-Stein averaged 2.1 and 2.9 blocks per game in his two years with Kentucky, and I see no reason why he can’t be that same player with the Hawks. His addition could possibly mean the potential shift of Al Horford to the power forward position, which would give Atlanta an effective duo down in the paint. Not many teams would match-up well with a seven footer and 6-foot-10 Horford in the low post.
However, even if he doesn’t become a starter, there is no reason not to draft him with the 15th pick. Cauley-Stein’s potential and height alone should be a good enough reason for a team like the Hawks to take a chance on him. Who knows? He could even be the guy to turn Atlanta into a serious title contender.