Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one of only three players remaining on the Detroit Pistons roster that Stan Van Gundy took over. Caldwell-Pope was thrown into the fire his first year by starting 41 games. Van Gundy ran with him as the starting shooting guard in his first season at the helm even after he signed Jodie Meeks to a three-year deal. Caldwell-Pope started every game and led the team in minutes last season. Caldwell-Pope has only played sparingly this preseason, but that's because Van Gundy's confident in him.
With only one preseason game left before the real games begin, some have wondered about KCP. Prior to soreness in his left foot that limited him to 10 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets and will keep him out of Friday's preseason finale, KCP had been averaging just over 26 minutes a game. Last year he averaged 31.5 minutes per game. The dip in minutes has nothing to do with his play, but as Langlois puts it, it is Van Gundy's confidence in him.
Stan Van Gundy has even held off on expanding Caldwell-Pope’s minutes in preseason games in order to get a look at other players, a statement of his confidence of the third-year player’s standing.
Is that confidence well placed? After the first preseason game, the immediate answer would have likely been yes. Van Gundy stated that KCP was the best player in camp before the games began. Despite the loss to the Indiana Pacers to start the regular season, KCP went off, hitting 7-for-9 from the field and 6-for-7 from deep for 22 points. You combine that with his defense, and you could see why Van Gundy has placed such high regard in KCP.
But if you take a step back, it gets a bit murkier. KCP was the Pistons' best three-point shooter in their recent loss to the Hornets, making the first two threes the Pistons took all game. He finished the game 2-for-4 from distance, but the team finished 5-for-29. Over the last six games, though, KCP is only shooting 33.3-percent from distance -- four of which were road games.
Last year, KCP had possibly one of the worst home/road split stat lines of anyone in the NBA. Is that still happening now? In three home games this preseason, KCP has a shooting line of 54.2/64.3/75.0. In the four road games this preseason, that shooting line is 39.3/27.3/66.7.
Here's the thing about camp -- it is done in the comfort of your gym. I can go to a park that I've been playing at every day for a few years and probably knock down 85-percent of my shots. That does not mean that I will play as well at Rucker Park. KCP will be out for the final preseason game at home, so we will see how he does in Atlanta to begin the season, where he shot 5-for-22 and 2-for-11 from deep last season.
Do you have the same confidence in KCP?