Kentavious Caldwell-Pope receives vote of confidence from Mo Cheeks

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit's rookie out of Georgia has impressed his head coach by playing hard on both ends of the court.

Speaking before Saturday's game in Brooklyn, Detroit Pistons head coach gave a vote of confidence of sorts to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who shot just 3-for-20 in his first two preseason games, by suggesting that KCP's versatility would help him get on the court even when his shot isn't falling. From Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press:

"His (Caldwell-Pope) game isn’t built on making shots," said Cheeks. "His game is built on playing hard and playing defense. He had been making shots for awhile and he had been pretty good at that. Fortunately for him the way he plays, he plays both ends of the floor. Unfortunately for him he has missed some shots, but fortunately he plays defense."

Caldwell-Pope struggled early during the summer league making shots, but got better as he adjusted to the professional game.

"I suspect he’ll adjust here, too," said Cheeks, "but his game is just not based on making shots. He has proven he can play a little bit at both ends. That’s what’s going to take him a long way in this league. The ability to play defense is always a plus, but you have to make some shots at some point."

KCP still needs to re-discover his 3-point stroke -- he shot 0-for-5 from beyond the arc on Saturday (box score) -- but he started to adjust from within, shooting 4-for-6 on 2-pointers and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. He finished with 12 points in 23 minutes.

But like Cheeks said, Caldwell-Pope continues to play hard on both ends of the court: he snagged seven rebounds with an assist and a steal. He also fouled out, which isn't ideal, but also indicates he played with a lot of intensity. Put it all together, and he compiled a team-high +16 plus/minus. If he stays that active, it'll be difficult to deny him a spot in the guard rotation -- especially once his 3-pointers start falling.

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