Fun fact: at last night's Pistons game, I sat between two Celtics fans. One was of my own choosing, a Celtics supporting co-worker I attended the game with, the other was "pure luck." We were all gracious to one another, admitting when an offensive possession was sloppy, or when a whistle that went our way shouldn't have.
At one point, my co-worker turns to me and says, "Why is KCP having his best game against us?" My first reaction was dismissive, he was doing the usual KCP things I thought to myself. I even responded, "this is usually how he plays," and then I looked up at the jumbotron and saw that he had 27 points with five minutes left in the game. My jaw dropped, and only then did I realize the clinic he was putting on.
Coming into this season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was an interesting subplot to the Pistons story. The second longest-tenured Piston suddenly became somewhat of a leader because of how much the roster had been revamped. There is no argument that the third-year player has improved and developed well, but there were and are still aspects of his game that needed work, and perhaps more importantly, needed to become consistent.
And so far this year, he has been a revelation - and more for his defensive effort than anything on the offensive end. His second year as a consistent starter, he now knows his role - to defend the opposing teams best guard, to shoot threes when he has a look, and to make something happen when plays break down. But the defense is a thing of beauty. The way he gets up in the players he guards is a joy to watch, how quickly he can make them uncomfortable, it's a style that was built for this team, and this franchise.
Remember when fans were cursing Dumars for picking KCP over Trey Burke? And then Burke had an above average rookie season? Those fans now have had to swallow their pride and realize that KCP was a pick meant for the end-game, and meant for development.
The development really started in the Summer League before his sophomore season, when KCP came out with an offensive vengeance. Getting to the rim faster than most, and shooting the three ball like it was a free throw - but it was Summer league, and another up-and-down sophomore year left many wondering where he fit into the Pistons future plans. Dare I say there was even a small, small microcosm of a group of fans that entertained trading him. Hell, even I would be lying to say I hadn't thrown him into the trade machine a couple of times.
Wednesday night, he reminded us why he is looked at as a leader on this team. Fans have seen his potential to be a dangerous two-way player, and maybe that's why I didn't notice. To me, KCP was doing everything he normally does - the only difference was that he made everything. But the effort, the hustle, the defense was all the same. As I left the game, I was telling my co-worker that I wasn't even sure how we came away with the win. It wasn't until I got home that night and was re-reading the sequence of his plays reported on Twitter that it really hit home how it happened - KCP willed us to that win. The two-way player we all thought he could be showed up with the best game of his career.
Additional Notes from The Palace
- TEES FOR THREES WAS BACK! IF YOU HEARD SOMEONE SCREAMING ON THE TELECAST IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ME. THE DBB EFFECT IS REAL.
- Regarding Drummond's half court buzzer beater. During halftime this year, Drummond is always the first one back out to the court. I've noticed the last few games I've been to that his first dozen shots are all half court heaves. He switches it up too, running shots and stand still jumpers. He makes maybe one or two total, and it's entertaining to watch him react to his heaves. Seeing all those practice shots made watching him sink that buzzer beater 1 million times better.
- For the sneakerheads, Marcus Morris is back to wearing Jordan XIIs during games. The first 10 or 15 games, he was all XII's and then briefly swapped out, around the time of his sore back. Went back to the classics.
- Wednesdays are $1 hot dogs at The Palace. I was convinced this was a typo, and even had the vendor confirm that it was not a typo. As you can imagine, I now feel slightly sick because of this deal, so let's move on to your thoughts.