Brandon Jennings' return pushes Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out of Pistons rotation

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Mo Cheeks warned us this might happen, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Before the season started, Mo Cheeks warned us that he couldn't envision playing five guards. Then Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey went down for most of the preseason, giving rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ample opportunity to show what he brings to the table on both sides of the ball. That was all he needed to change Cheeks' mind, right?

Nope.

With Stuckey returning Friday and Jennings back Sunday, Caldwell-Pope was the odd man out against the Celtics, recording the first official DNP-CD of his young career. Cheeks warned us Saturday that it might happen, although he did leave the door open for the 6-foot-5 rookie to potentially play out of position at the three. From Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News:

Caldwell-Pope looks to be the odd man out, but Cheeks wanted to leave the door open to the first-round pick playing small forward at times. Caldwell-Pope had 13 points in 18 minutes Friday night against the Grizzlies, drawing the attention of Cheeks.

"Maybe (playing him at) other positions, I don’t know," Cheeks said. "It would be tough to play five guards at those two positions. It wouldn’t be right and wouldn’t make a lot of sense. He has played well, we just have to find a way to get him out there."

That didn't happen Sunday, but hopefully it will soon. KCP is athletic enough to handle all but the burliest of small forwards. Plus, Detroit clearly lacks shooters when he's not on the floor -- the Pistons shot just 2-for-13 from beyond the arc against the Celtics. KCP's outside shot hasn't been entirely consistent thus far, but judging by his college numbers, that's just a matter of sample size.

To Cheeks' credit, it's possible that he simply needs time to figure out what exactly he has before settling on optimal lineups. As renowned DBB reader V. pointed out in the recap comments:

KCP definitely earned minutes, he’d be a great pairing with CB. I think Cheeks, realizing who the opponent was, did a lot of experimenting with combinations and stuff. Maybe overdid it a little.

It's an optimistic theory, and one I'm going to adopt for the time being. Stuckey and Jennings could very well start the majority of games this year -- but aside from training camp scrimmages, Cheeks has seen them share the court in exactly one meaningful game. Once Cheeks decides on his starters, it'll be much easier to determine the pecking order for backup minutes.

Now your thoughts.

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