Kings Positional Preview: Center

With the 2017-18 season just around the corner, we examine the depth of the center position.
by Kyle Ramos
Writer, Digital

As we round out the Kings roster, the big men in the middle will intriguing to keep an eye on this season.

Anchored by experience and rising talent, these four centers have the makings of becoming a strong presence for the purple and black. Below, we took a closer look at each big man to break down how they can make their impacts.

Willie Cauley-Stein

Now entering his third year, Trill has started to blossom as a center in the Association.

The start of the season saw a bit of inconsistency from Cauley-Stein in terms of playing time, and as a result, production in the box score. However, the Kentucky product worked his way into a bigger role and his contributions began to emerge more and more in the numbers.

While starting the final 18 games of the 2016-17 season, No. 00 logged averages of 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in his 30.8 minutes per contest. This stretch began with an impressive performance of 20 points and 13 rebounds against the Washington Wizards and was capped off by 19 points and 14 rebounds against the Los Angeles Clippers in the final game of the season.

Willie’s game has continued to evolve into more of an offensive threat, building upon his reputation as an athletic defensive stopper, as well. If the end of last season was any indicator, Trill could continue to make more leaps and bounds in his development and cement himself as a cornerstone for the Kings.

Kosta Koufos

Though he’s not always the flashiest player on the hardwood, Koufos is a player willing to contribute any way he can.

Koufos’ calling card is as a defensive and rebounding big man who can function both in multiple roles as a starter or reserve player. Offensively, we saw a bit more expansion in Kosta’s game, as he opened up his range a bit with some attempts from outside of the immediate paint.

The Ohio State product performed well with these shot attempts, converting on 46.9 percent of his attempts in the range of three to 10 feet from the basket. Of course, the big man’s go to move is his patented floater, which has developed into a reliable aspect of his repertoire and that could be used even more frequently heading into the new season.

Georgios Papagiannis

Similar to his fellow rookies of last season, Papagiannis made strides during his first NBA go-round.

After splitting time between the Kings and their G-League affiliate Reno Bighorns, the Greece native worked his way into some NBA minutes by March. Papa G played in 16 of the final 17 games of Sacramento’s season, posting 7.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game along with a piar of double-doubles, as well.

Recently, No. 13 saw his first taste of international competition with the Greek senior national team as they participated in EuroBasket 2017. As the youngest player on Greece’s roster, Papagiannis saw limited action, but helped his team to an appearance in the quarterfinals of the tournament, where Greece would eventually fall to Russia.

The second-year big man could continue to see improvement as he learns more about leveraging his size and shooting touch into his game which could in turn help him become one of the up-and-coming players to watch.

Jack Cooley

Many Kings fans had not heard of Jack Cooley heading into July’s NBA Summer League. However, by the time it was over, the former Notre Dame center had definitely made his name known.

Cooley earned a two-way contract with the Kings after a standout performance in Summer League, where he won the fans adoration over with hustle plays and big-time effort.

After being undrafted in 2013, Cooley bounced around with several squads in the Assocation and in the G-League before playing a season overseas in Germany.

A player of Cooley’s caliber is a coach’s dream and his tenacity will surely present opportunities in one form or another heading into his first season in Sacramento.

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