Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 2013-14 Detroit Pistons Preview

© Mike Payne

Thanks to a huge upswing in his offensive efficiency to complement his natural athleticism and aggressiveness, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope exploded to be a lottery pick. There’s a lot to like for a smooth transition to the next level for KCP.

2012-13 Year in Review

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope entered his sophomore year as a talented, athletic player, but also one who was still raw and inefficient. He left it as one of the best two-way perimeter players in the country.

His scoring efficiency exploded from 13.2 points per game on 12 shots to 18.5 points per game on 13.4 shots, an increase in true shooting from 50% to 58%. The catalyst for this upswing came from improving his three-point shot (which he loved to fire up, making it or not) from 30% to 38% and doubling his trips to the line from 2.5 attempts per game to 5.2. He also made them at a better rate, jumping his free throw percentage from 65% to 80%.

One of the things that stood out about Caldwell-Pope in his first impression in a Pistons uniform at the Orlando Summer League was his ability to make an impact on the game even when his shot wasn't falling. Even though he only shot 37% from the field and 23% from three, he still scored 14 points per game off 10.6 shots thanks to his knack for drawing fouls. Helping out on the boards and stout defense also kept KCP's presence as a positive despite struggling with his shooting.

This was also the case last year with in Georgia. He had two five-game stretches where he struggled with his shot, putting up 34% in from the field in both -- one came in November, the other in the spring. During the first he still managed 18.2 points on 15.8 shots while also contributing 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 steals. The second drought yielded even better results with 20.2 points on 16 shots, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.2 steals.

He's a player whose true shooting percentage will tell the story better than his field goal percentage. His 43% field goal shooting for the season suggests a rather inefficient player while his 58% TS rates him as one of the most efficient scorers at his position.

Caldwell-Pope's scoring and defensive ability drew much of the attention in his NBA Draft ascent, but his rebounding last year was also extremely impressive. He led his team in rebounding by a considerable margin and was one of the best rebounders at his position in the country. He put up seven double-doubles, quite a feat for a shooting guard.

Areas to Improve in 2013-14

After a fantastic sophomore year, the focus for KCP's jump to the next level will be maintaining much of what contributed to his dramatic increase in efficiency last year. Shoot respectably from three and at the line, draw plenty of fouls, contribute aggressively defensively and on the glass. He'll certainly have ups and downs, but if he's able to do these things the shooting guard position should be his for the taking.

2013-14 Projected Production

Caldwell-Pope is the most prototypical shooting guard on the Pistons' roster, but he still faces a competition for earning playing time. Rodney Stuckey, Chauncey Billups, Kyle Singler, and maybe even Luigi Datome all figure to glean some minutes at the position. It will likely take some tinkering for the rotation to figure itself out, particularly with the unique starting front court of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond.

Caldwell-Pope could easily find himself playing big minutes early or on the outside looking in. His role could also take on a variety of appearances, perhaps as a catalyst off the bench or maybe a three and D guy as a starter. But his talent and wide range of skills should have the team looking for ways to get him involved, and hopefully by the end of the season he will solidify himself as the shooting guard of the future.

Prediction:

25 minutes per game, 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 53% TS

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