Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 Season Review: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The turmoil that was the Pistons season likely took a pick on their younger players, and no other player saw the type of role fluctuation that KCP saw last year.  As the starting SG early in the season, Caldwell-Pope got an opportunity to showcase his talents.  As the season progressed and pressure began to mount on Cheeks and Dumars, he played less minutes in favor of more experienced players, like Kyle Singler and Rodney Stuckey.  Once the season was a lost cause, KCP got heavy minutes once again, capping his year with a tremendous 30 point performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  However, KCP also had a fair amount of games where he was a complete non-factor.  There were 7 games in the 2013-14 season where KCP managed to score zero points in over ten minutes of game action.  He tallied 18 games total with zero points regardless of minutes.  Still, KCP showed some promise at both ends and will look to build on a decent, though unspectacular, rookie season going into his second year.

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9.4 5.9 48.3% 46.0% 31.9% 5.4% 5.0% 5.4%

Well that's just an all-together sad line, even for a rookie.  While KCP did show flashes of potential (such as his season-ending game against OKC), those were few and far between.  He played the 7th most minutes among Pistons.  He was also well below a league average player according to PER, failed to post a TS% above 50 and was hardly a factor as a rebounder or passer.  He was a low turnover player, but hardly got used enough (13.9 USG%) to make that number look important.  The key for Caldwell-Pope going forward will be to improve his three-point shooting enough to make a positive impact on the offensive end of the floor.  He's not an isolation player by any means, so if he can just play solid defense and hit a reliable amount of threes, he can justify a lottery pick in the 2013 draft.  He'll probably never be even a third option in a good offense, but they shouldn't need him to be.  

This is ugly, but not as bad as his statistical profile would suggest.  KCP was only below league average from two three-point zones.  His success from the left corner is very encouraging, as he may be well-utilized moving between there and the wing after feeding a Moose or Drummond post-up.  Aside from that, he was average at the rim, decent in short-baseline situations and bad just about everywhere else.  KCP is a player who needs to be utilized well in order to make a positive impact, and I trust that Stan Van Gundy can do that for him going into the 2014-15 season.


Okay, so I kind of cheated here as this is a whole game's worth of highlights.  If even half of this version of KCP had shown up for the Pistons this past season, he would have won Rookie of the Year by a long margin.  When dialed in from outside, he's tough to guard due to a quick release and solid situational recognition (for an example, see the play where he spun out of the corner). Also of note was his block against Reggie Jackson.


The Pistons losing their pick to the Hornets has made KCP's development all that much more important to the Pistons this offseason.  If they had a 1st round pick, they could use it on a shooter to platoon with KCP and occasionally play them together.  Instead, the Pistons have to either find a shooting wing in free agency or hope that KCP can find his stroke enough to be a threat.  If he can at least make his defender think twice about doubling down on the blocks, the Pistons will have a pair (Singler) of corner three-point threats.  If KCP can bump his offensive efficiency up a few notches (PER in the 12-14 range, TS% > 50) it would do wonders for what Detroit can do as a whole.  I expect him to play solid minutes again next season, assuming his development doesn't stall.  There's always a need for defensive-oriented players, especially on this Pistons outfit.


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