5. Willie Cauley-Stein
Willie Cauley-Stein has familiarity with new Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas, as the two were both on the 2019-20 Dallas Mavericks team. Although Cauley-Stein only played an average of 12.1 minutes per game, he performed significantly better than his career averages across the board.
The 27-year-old center made a career-best 68.9 percent of his shots, 70.5 percent of his two-point field goals, had a Player Efficiency Rating of 22.2 and posted a true shooting percentage of 68.4 percent, which were all career-highs across the board during his time with Silas and the Mavericks.
Cauley-Stein could prove to be a great lob option for both James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and he could certainly be relied upon to play up to 20 minutes per night as a reserve center. Cauley-Stein could help solidify the Rockets’ rim protection and would figure to be available via the veterans-minimum, which is essentially what the Rockets have to offer, barring an unexpected trade.
The Kentucky product has proven to be willing to accept any role he’s asked to play, as he went from a lottery pick who was a starter to an end of the bench rotational player with the Dallas Mavericks, and never complained about it. At 7-feet tall, Cauley-Stein could present a relatively small Rockets unit with an immediate boost in size.
Cauley-Stein hasn’t been linked to any particular team since free agency started, so he could very well fall into Houston Rockets general manager Rafael Stone’s lap.
Next: No. 4