Team: Detroit Pistons
Position: Shooting Guard
Role: Bench Player
Analysis: The Pistons did well this off-season — scooping up Josh Smith in free agency, Brandon Jennings in a trade, and Chauncey Billups. The combination of Drummond and Monroe in the front-court is promising. So what’s missing? A long-range sniper from 24 feet.
Enter: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The Smith-Monroe-Drummond front-court has reasonable spacing problems — Smith, Monroe, and Drummond are all bad shooters outside the paint. Caldwell-Pope shot 37% from three-point land in his sophomore season, which is good, considering he was the only true scoring option at Georgia last season. He was the only player at Georgia to score over 10 points per game(he averaged 18.7). The 2013 SEC Player of the Year won’t have to worry about being the number one, two, or even third option when he’s on the floor. He has a good shot at playing decent minutes if the can become a spot-up shooter to free up the other four players on the court.
Unlike many players that come out of the college today, Kentavious is sharp off the ball. He can run teams to death around screens and recognizes when to duck under a screen or pop out quickly to pull up for a jump-shot. Additionally, he’s a freakishly good rebounder — 7.1 per game, which led the team. The definition of “putting the team on your back.”
Caldwell-Pope is the prototypical size for a shooting guard — 6 foot 6, 200 pounds — and has the potential to be an adequate defender. Averaging two steals per game(Oh, which led the team), Caldwell-Pope is sneaky at picking off passes in the passing lanes and stealing in man situations.
Are the Pistons going to run with lineups like Jennings-Billups or Jennings-Stuckey, who are both undersized, in crunch-time? Those lineups will get killed defensively. I think there’s a fair chance that if Kentavious progresses throughout the season, he can begin to see starter minutes.
Statistical Projection: 19 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 37% 3PT