Kentavious Caldwell-Pope going through NBA growing pains
After averaging 19.8 minutes in 80 games (including 41 starts) during his rookie season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's minutes were ramped up to 31.6 this year as he has taken control of the Pistons' starting two-guard spot. While his shooting numbers have largely stayed the same -- currently .397/.333/.699 -- he has seen increases in rebounds, assists and points corresponding with his increase in minutes; however, his home and away splits have raised more than one set of eyebrows around the League.
The second-year guard has been playing a lot better at home, averaging 15.8 points while shooting .444/.387/.683 in 32.8 minutes per game, compared to his 9.6 points on .342/.265/.733 away from the Palace, earning him some harsh words from Stan Van Gundy when queried about the former Georgia Bulldog's apparent road struggles after the team's thorough beat down at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets earlier this month. Per MLive's David Mayo:
"All year, it's just been a huge difference between him at home and him on the road," Van Gundy said. "He's got to get it figured out, I've got to get it figured out. But we can't go long term with a starting point guard who only plays half your games."
Van Gundy quickly corrected himself, adding, "I mean starting two-guard."
Caldwell-Pope, who declined to comment after the Hornets game, opened up after the team's loss against the Bulls, saying he'd never noticed the dip in his offensive numbers prior to SVG pointing them out. The sophmore shooting guard told the press he was unable to explain his shooting struggles, but told them he was giving his all every game, and was hoping to improve his game and its consistency over the offseason. Van Gundy admitted his impatience sometimes meant he overlooked the improvements in a player's game, but was adamant that whether or not KCP was "hitting the wall" minutes-wise, he was in the NBA and had to adjust to the work-load and demands of the game. Despite the criticism, Stan Van Gundy continued to praise his young shooting guard:
"All you've got to do is look at the minutes played and know that I really like the guy and have great respect for him as a player. At the same time, I don't want him to be satisfied, and I don't want him to shut it down with seven games to go," Van Gundy said before Friday's game. "And I think those are realistic expectations to continue to work to get better."
Kentavious has so far logged 2500 minutes for Detroit, the most on the team, only Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe have exceeded 2000+ minutes (2408 & 2057 respectively), with Caron Butler's 1562 minutes coming in fourth overall.
Pistons interested in adding another point guard?
According to KSTP's Darren Wolfson, the Pistons are one of four teams looking into Duke point guard and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Tyus Jones. The 6-foot-1 Jones, who is listed as the 21st best prospect in this year's draft class according to Draft Express, is expected to be drafted mid-way or late into the first round, a long reach from the Pistons' lottery position.
With three point guards on contract through next season -- Reggie Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Spencer Dinwiddie -- it makes little sense for Detroit to draft another, especially with the Pistons' weaknesses being on both wings. Tyus Jones, who helped lead Duke to this year's NCAA Championship, certainly looks like an intriguing prospect, as NBADraft.net's Michael Visenberg's explains:
Was able to gain the trust of coach Mike Krzyzewski immediately, as he moved Quinn Cook to the off guard position, with the two small guards forming a really nice duo ... While he may be a notch below most starting point guards as far as athleticism is concerned, his ability to see the floor and see plays will surely get him some minutes as at least a steady handed back-up ... If he improves his shooting, adds strength and shows a greater defensive awareness, coaches will love the intangibles he brings to a team ... His level of efficiency as a scorer will be something to watch as time passes by, though his ability to run the offense in the half court and his vision as a distributor will be valuable attributes ... Seems to be a likely first round pick, in the mid-to-late range, should he enter the draft this year ... Coach K surely would love to have him back in the fold as Duke has no current successor to take his place ...
Tyus Jones averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting .417/.379/.889 for the Blue Devils this year, and has been compared to the likes of Trey Burke and Luke Ridnour. Draft Express currently has Jones selected 21st overall by the Dallas Mavericks, with the Detroit Pistons selecting Latvian power forward Kristaps Porzingis eighth overall.
Speaking of Kristaps Porzingis and the draft...
Stan Van Gundy to scout potential draft targets in Spain
MLive's David Mayo revealed Van Gundy's travel intentions once the NBA regular season ends, opting to watch the likes of Mario Hezonja and Kristaps Porzingis play their last games in Spain prior to the offseason. Both Hezonja and Porzingis have been touted as some of the best international prospects in this year's draft, and are expected to be drafted in the lottery within reach of the Pistons.
The 20 year-old Hezonja, has averaged 8.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game for Barcelona, shooting an impressive 40.6% from 3 during the 2014-2015 Eurocup season. Currently listed as the 7th best prospect in the draft by Draft Express, their mock draft has him selected the pick prior to Detroit's. At 6-foot-8, the Croatian forward is expected to play on the wings, an area of weakness the Pistons should look to address this offseason, as Sean Corp explored here.
Porzingis has played strongly for Seville, and projects to be a tall forward able to knock down open looks from downtown, hitting them at a 33.8% clip in Spain and 45.9% during the Eurocup competition. The seven-footer has averaged 10.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 21.6 minutes this season.
The Pistons are prioritizing both forward spots, who would you like to see them pick up this offseason?
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