ESPN sizes up Rookie of the Year contenders, mentions Pistons pair

Could Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Luigi Datome make noise in the Rookie of the Year race? Chad Ford thinks it's possible.

ESPN has been weighing in on the upcoming NBA season and yesterday Chad Ford broke down the contenders for Rookie of the Year. As expected no Pistons player is anywhere near the top of the list -- that is reserved mostly for players on bad teams expected to get big minutes -- Victor Oladipo, Michael Carter-Williams, Ben McLemore, Trey Burke.

But two Pistons players do round out the bottom of the list with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope listed at No. 10 and Luigi Datome listed as a sleeper candidate.

The piece is ESPN Insider, so I will only excerpt the Pistons-related bits:

The case for Caldwell-Pope: This offseason, much has been made of the Pistons' spacing issues, and Caldwell-Pope looks poised to put those concerns to bed. If he can get hot early from the outside, he could play a major role in a Detroit playoff run.

The case against Caldwell-Pope: He'll be sharing backcourt minutes with Rodney Stuckey and won't be the focus of their offense. Will that be enough to get him noticed by voters?

The case for Datome: Datome was the MVP of the Italian League last season and has a unique combination of athleticism and shooting ability. He's older and more experienced than other rookies and plays at a high level.

The case against Datome: He'll be coming off the bench and adjusting to life in America at the same time. Will he come out firing right away?

Remember, though, that rookie accolades often go to big-minutes point scorers regardless of overall effectiveness.

Last season, Damian Lillard won while Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters made the top five. You could make the case Lillard's win was legitimate as he played well at point guard and played all 82 games. But Anthony Davis (2nd) and Andre Drummond (4th) and Jonas Valanciunas (9th) all had superior statistical seasons to all the gunners listed above.

Former Piston Brandon Knight, meanwhile, managed to eke out an eighth-place finish in 2011-12 despite playing relatively poorly all season. But he got lots of minutes and scored lots of points.

In 2010-11, Blake Griffin rightfully swept the award but somehow the top five consisted of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Landry Fields and Gary Neal. Greg Monroe, who should have finished second behind Griffin, finished sixth.

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