Friday, April 17, 2015

2014-15 Season Review: Shooting Guards

The play from the Pistons' shooting guards this past season can best be described as inconsistent.  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had nights where he looked like a borderline all-star (usually at home) and nights where he looked like he didn't belong in the league (on the road, mostly).  Jodie Meeks missed the first few weeks of the year with a back injury suffered in the preseason, but came roaring out of the gates once he did get on the floor.  After a hot December, Meeks cooled off considerably, becoming an anchor on offense as he didn't provide the shooting the Pistons so badly needed off the bench.  Although he heated up again towards the end of the season, Meeks' first year in Detroit was a bit of a disappointment.  Cartier Martin will also be discussed here to keep the SF post from being incredibly long.


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
GP
PER
PPG
TS%
FG%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
APG
AST%
TRB%
SPG
82
11.2
12.7
50.1%
40.1%
34.5%
.457
69.6%
.163
1.3
6.8%
5.4%
1.1

Following an outstanding Orlando Summer League performance, there were hopes that the light had come on for KCP during the offseason.  He had packed on 10-15 pounds of muscle, looked more comfortable attacking the basket and had developed an excellent pull-up jumper to go along with a convincing pump fake.  Then the regular season started and we got to see the player described above only every other time the Pistons played.  Caldwell-Pope's inconsistencies and their impact on the team's success can easily be shown by looking at the difference between his performance in wins versus losses:

Wins
14.3 PPG
46.8 FG%
57.6 TS%
41.1 3P%
113 ORtg
104 DRtg
+16.8
Losses
11.7 PPG
36.0 FG%
45.5 TS%
30.4 3P%
91 ORtg
113 DRtg
-9.4

So there's that, and it's bad.  It's an insane understatement to simply say that KCP needs to be more consistent next season if the Pistons are going to make the playoffs.  The saving grace here is that Caldwell-Pope is only 21 years old.  There are still years of development ahead for him, and with a competent coaching staff, that will hopefully be an accelerated process.  The staggering splits don't stop at wins and losses for KCP; he was a different player on the road than he was at home:

Home
15.5 PPG
44.5 FG%
55.8 TS%
39.4 3P%
109 ORtg
111 DRtg
+4.7
Road
9.9 PPG
35.0 FG%
43.2 TS%
28.0 3P%
88 ORtg
108 DRtg
-3.6

And then there's that, and it's really bad.  KCP's 88 Offensive Rating on the road looks even worse when you frame it properly.  Among all NBA players who played 1,200 or more minutes this season, only one player posted an ORtg lower than 88: Lance Stephenson at 85.  Being compared to Lance Stephenson last year would have been a positive thing.  This year, it's about as strong of a condemnation as you can receive.  It's hard to say what KCP's road struggles are caused by, but the team ought to look into it.  It might be a matter of him getting to the gym earlier and getting more shots up in an unfamiliar setting.  Regardless of what's causing the problem, it's a major issue that could get in the way of the Pistons having a successful 2015-16 campaign.  For the record, he was better on the road than at home as a rookie.

Caldwell-Pope's top performance of the season came in a late-January win over the Rockets.  KCP dropped 31 points, hit six threes and kept James Harden quiet for most of the night.  To go with his excellent scoring night, KCP also blocked 3 shots, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 4 assists.

The Pistons have already exercised their team option on KCP for the 2015-16 season.  Although I wouldn't say there's zero chance he's traded, the likely scenario is that KCP is back next season as the starting SG.  His ability to contribute more consistently at both ends of the floor will be a determinant in the team's success next year.

Jodie Meeks
GP
PER
PPG
TS%
FG%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
APG
AST%
TRB%
SPG
60
14.1
11.1
54.8%
41.6%
34.9%
.397
90.6%
.300
1.3
8.8%
3.9%
1.0

Meeks joined the Pistons this year as the cornerstone of Stan Van Gundy's first free agent class.  His debut with the team was delayed by a back injury suffered in the preseason, as he didn't make his first appearance until December 12th in a win over Phoenix.  Early returns looked good, as Meeks averaged 13.9 PPG on .494/.500/.917 shooting in nine December contests.  He was a big part of the team's surge after the release of Josh Smith, including a 34-point showing at Orlando in the middle of the team's seven game winning streak.  Then the second week of January hit and Meeks hit the wall.  He finished January with a paltry 47.0 TS%, as he shot 26.2% from three for the month.  The outside shooting struggles continued into February, as he shot an even worse 24.4%.  He ended up coming around, shooting over 40% from the perimeter in the season's final month-and-a-half, capping an up-and-down year with the second-worst 3P% of his career.  On the bright side, Meeks wasn't a total black hole offensively, thanks to an ability to get to the free throw line, where he's nearly automatic.

Meeks' top performance of the season was the aforementioned 34-point showing against the Magic at the end of December.  He hit 9 of his 11 three point attempts on the evening, shooting 11 of 16 for the game:
Meeks is under contract with the Pistons through the end of the 2016-17 season.  It's highly unlikely that he'll be moved in the offseason, as his value is low coming off of a down year shooting the ball.  Expect Meeks to have a better offensive season in year two with the Pistons, as he fills a role similar to this year's.  It's hard to see a career 37% shooter from three having another down year shooting the ball, especially as he's in his prime.

Cartier Martin
GP
PER
PPG
TS%
FG%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
APG
AST%
TRB%
SPG
23
1.6
1.6
34.0%
28.3%
18.2%
.623
N/A
.000
0.5
8.0%
5.5%
0.1

It's tough to be as bad as Cartier Martin was in 2014-15.  He holds a player option for the 2015-16 season that he's a lock to exercise.  Expect him to hold down a spot at the end of the bench again next year.

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