Much like the rest of the 2013 NBA Draft class, when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was selected with the 8th overall pick he was not given high expectations right out of the gate. With no standout superstars in this draft class, it was assumed that most of the players would come off of the bench to start their careers, but will that be the case with Caldwell-Pope?
To start, we need to look at what exactly Caldwell-Pope will bring to the team right out of the gate. The first thing that will stand out when you watch any of his tape at the University of Georgia is his natural ability for scoring. He averaged 18.5 points per game, and that is made even more impressive when you consider that he had no other credible scoring options on his team, so he was regularly double teamed.
He was able to score in just about every way you can think of, whether it be driving to the lane or pulling up from three. He averaged over 5 free throws per game during his sophomore year at Georgia, which shows his ability to draw contact from defenders. It’s not that he had to drive the lane because he couldn’t shoot, though, as he was deadly accurate in his mid-range/three-point stroke.
His 43% from the field does him no justice, and it really just points to the lack of scoring threats around him. His release point is just about perfect, and he established himself as one of the best shooters in the country with it.
Though he was known for his abilities on the offensive side of the ball, that’s not where it ends with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He was the nation’s top rebounding guard at 7.1 rebounds per game, and that fact makes the Pistons an even more dangerous team on the boards, as they already have solid rebounders in Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond. Even though he is 6’6, his leaping ability makes him able to jump in on rebounds that would not normally be possible for players his size.
On top of the rebounding aspect, he also brings the potential of being an elite defender. Unlike many college players who are the focal point of their offense, KCP was actually very focused on that end of the ball. He uses all of his lengthy wingspan to disrupt passing lanes, as well as shots. His athleticism allows him to stay with just about any player, and he is not afraid to get physical with his man.
When looking at the Pistons’ roster, it appears that only veteran Chauncey Billups and Rodney Stuckey stand in his way of starting. Given that Billups is probably past the point in his career that he should be starting, that leaves a 2 man race between Stuckey and KCP. We have seen a constant regression out of the former over the past few years, and given that it is the last year of his contract, there is really no reason to give him extended playing time.
That leaves only one option, the rookie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. His blend of scoring ability, rebounding, and defense is something that is not currently present anywhere else at the shooting guard position on the Pistons roster, and that should be enough to anoint him the starter for opening night against the Washington Wizards.
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