Friday, June 28, 2013

New Motors: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope   |   Sophomore SG   |   Georgia
6'6", 204 lbs6'8" wingspan8'4.5" standing reach
5.8-13.4 FG (43.3%)2.6-7.0 3FG (37.3%)7.1 rebounds/game

With the 8th overall pick, the Pistons opted for a somewhat surprising selection and drafted a rangy shooting guard out of Georgia in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. With the top small forwards off the board and Ben McLemore being snapped up by Sacramento a pick before the Pistons hit the clock, KCP was the right pick given the circumstances and team fit, and more importantly, will help the team immediately next year.

The Pistons' two primary positions of need were point guard and small forward. Brandon Knight was thought to be moving to shooting guard, and the platoon of Kyle Singler, Khris Middleton, and Jonas Jerebko at small forward struggled to keep pace with even average small forward outings. But the one area the Pistons are set for the coming years is the front court with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. What the selection of KCP signifies is a clear path forward. The Pistons are going to run their offense strictly through Monroe and Drummond with the rest of the team spacing the floor and giving them room to operate in the post.

Offenses around the NBA in recent years have been run through one of two positions: SF or PG. The rise of players like Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony, and Lebron James has made this an obvious transition. It has also made fans expect that this is how teams are supposed to work. But teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers have eschewed this trend and found success because of the matchup problems that they present inside. This is where the Pistons are headed, and aggressively following that path should be commended and shows foresight by Joe Dumars.

With the acquisition of KCP, Knight will move back to the point guard position (assuming Jose Calderon does not re-sign with the team, which he won't), and Kyle Singler will likely move out to the small forward position, giving the starting lineup three outside shooters to pair with Monroe and Drummond (who I'm presuming will both start when the season begins). KCP also comes to the Pistons as an above-average rebounder, which will help a backcourt that struggled on the glass against bigger lineups. But where KCP will shine through is on the offensive end, where he and Singler can patrol the three-point line, opening up pick-and-roll opportunities for Knight/Drummond or post-ups for Monroe. KCP took a whopping 52% of his shots from outside last year, converting on 37% of them. When he did put the ball on the floor (which was rare), he made 70% of his shots at the rim, likely after over-zealous closeouts and in transition, where he excels.

What KCP also offers the Pistons is flexibility. Because of his 6'6" frame and rebounding ability, he allows the Pistons to play small, something they did to great effect last year. If the team re-signs Charlie Villanueva--which they absolutely should--putting Knight, Bynum, and KCP on the floor with Charlie V and Drummond is a dangerous counter punch to the oversized lineup that will garner most of the team's minutes.

The elephant in the room, or perhaps the elephant in Utah, was Trey Burke, a local star who filled a position of need for the Pistons and was passed up despite his status as a top-10 player in the draft. I will say emphatically that KCP was the right pick at this position of the draft, and certainly a better selection than Burke. Though the Pistons are still searching for their point guard of the future, inserting Burke into this lineup would be difficult. With Knight assuming the other backcourt role, defensively, the team would struggle, putting Drummond and Monroe is a serious bind. KCP is a solid defender and most importantly, has the size to tangle with big guards. Were Burke a more surefire star in the league, he would've been the obvious pick, but pairing two undersized point guards in the back court is not a recipe for success, especially when a team is trying to dominate with its size.

The arguments in favor of Burke were missing the forest for the trees. Most people wanted Burke because he could potentially be a star in this league, but the Pistons already have their star(s) in the frontcourt and now need to build around them. KCP sets the Pistons up to immediately start making noise in the East where Burke would signify further rebuilding.

The Pistons now feature two excellent frontcourt players and a young core in the backcourt. KCP will have a role to play next year and all indications are that he will be able to fill it. With natural rookie-to-sophomore progression from Kyle Singler and the addition of KCP, the Pistons could develop into a devastating inside-out offense that poses problems for even the most adept defensive teams.

No comments:

Post a Comment