With the NBA season fast approaching, SB Nation NBA is highlighting players believed to be break out this season. This is DBB's submission.
Stan Van Gundy now has his own team. All that is left from what he inherited is Brandon Jennings, Andre Drummond, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. After trading for Reggie Jackson and making more moves this offseason, Van Gundy has his team. But while people are talking about how Jackson and Drummond are going to thrive, people might be overlooking KCP.
All but two basic stats went up for KCP last year from his rookie year: free throw percentage and blocks. Obviously fouls and turnovers going up aren't exactly a good thing, but it is still true. Though his numbers went up, he could have had a better year.
Catch and Shoot vs. Pull-up
In his rookie year (which was not under coach Van Gundy), most of KCP's shots (close to half -- 44.0-percent) were catch and shoot. He didn't make them at a great rate, only converting 33.7-percent of them. He was not very good off the dribble though. If he dribbled once, his shooting percentage dropped down to 33.3-percent. If he dribbled twice, it went back up to 39.1-percent. But if he got dribble happy (between three and six dribbles), it dropped down to 30-percent.
In his second year, KCP was a more rounded player. His catch and shoot attempts dropped to 39 percent of his attempts, but he raised the conversion rate up to 37 percent. In Van Gundy's system, KCP was asked to initiate his own offense at times which resulted in his pull-up attempts jumping to 30.2-percent (up from 21.8-percent). Though he still is better as a catch and shoot shooter, he did raise those percentages to 34.7-percent. If he dribbled once, he made 41.0-percent of them. Twice, up to 44.4-percent. But if he gets dribble happy again, it drops to 31.3-percent.
Less Initiating the Offense
This all matters because though KCP will be asked to initiate the offense at times (Jackson can't be the only guy with the ball in his hands), the players Van Gundy has assembled may dwindle down the frequency of such opportunities. The pick-and-roll will be a staple of the offense. As such, KCP and two other shooters will be roaming around the perimeter and looking for cuts to the basket. KCP was assisted on 70.8-percent of his makes last year. NBA.com says he made 251 jump shots (of various types). Based on the assist percentage of each of those types, about 188 of those were assisted. He was assisted on 276 makes overall. So that means about 88 shots were made by KCP where he was assisted on a basket that wasn't a jump shot - a layup, dunk, etc. Those are all the results of strong cuts to the basket.
Home vs. Road
KCP's splits last year between home and road were about the same as the difference in temperature between the light and dark side of the moon -- at least offensively. At home he had shooting splits of 44.5/39.4/67.3. On the road: 35.0/28.0/74.5. Rebounding, assists, turnovers, steals, blocks and fouls all stayed relatively the same. Though not a huge difference, he did play two minutes fewer per game on the road.
The difference in his rookie year was not so drastic (41.0/32.6/73.9 at home vs. 38.4/31.3/78.9 on the road). But outside of that, what is more important is the types of shots he's taken, the frequency in which he takes them, and how well he is at converting them.
Though there is no evidence to back it up nor any to refute it, to my knowledge, but most players don't sustain such varied splits between home and road play. It is probably safe to believe that in 2015-16, KCP's splits will not be so drastic. If he can keep them close to his home stats from last year, he'll be something to watch.
Small Sample Size of Hope
In the last 15 games of the year (because stats.nba.com won't let me do 16), he shot 39.5-percent on catch and shoot attempts (+2.7-percent). He even shot better on his pullups, converting them at a 38.6-percent clip (+3.9-percent). Now, are these upticks because of a more cohesive unit, or because he got the reps in the first part of the season and was progressively getting better? Who knows. In that lovely 12-4 run PSE, he only had splits of 32.8 and 38.0 percent respectively. But there's some hope to pull from the last 15 games.
Van Gundy's Staff
Van Gundy has been putting together quite a large coaching and executive staff. They have all of the same data we can use plus some. He also has hired David Hopla as a shooting coach who is sure to help KCP. It is very likely that after looking over the tape and consulting with his staff, he will have an even better idea on where KCP needs to be to be most successful.
If KCP breaks out...
Beware of the Pistons! There is already a great chemistry between Drummond and Jackson and ESPN has said they're most likely to be first time All-Stars. On paper, Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova are upgrades over Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince, and the shooting of Greg Monroe. If this team clicks as it should (on paper), and KCP solves the home and road splits plus takes another step forward overall, the Pistons will be one very good offensive team.
What do you think, fellow fans? Do you think KCP could be the one to break out on this team?