1. Which available player should the Pistons have chosen?
Patrick Hayes: Trey Burke. Joe Dumars has never favored need over talent in the draft. I can’t find a credible draft board that rated Caldwell-Pope more highly than Burke as a prospect. It doesn’t mean Caldwell-Pope is destined to disappoint while Burke is destined for stardom. But it does mean Dumars varied from a strategy – taking the best available talent – that he’s articulated in the past. Shooting guard is certainly a pressing need, as Dumars said. But so is point guard. So, Dumars deserves to have that logic questioned. The Pistons don’t have a starting-caliber point guard on the roster, and the best point guard in the draft fell to them. Regardless of Burke’s local ties, there was a legitimate case that he was the right pick.
Dan Feldman: Trey Burke. The Pistons, like Joe Dumars said, need better wings. They also need a better point guard. Burke rated ahead of Caldwell-Pope on not only my draft board, but every credible draft board I could find. The difference between spots on those boards was usually impossible to discern, but even if the difference were marginal (and I saw it as significant), I don’t see Caldwell-Pope as a better fit, anyway, so what’s the point of reaching for need?
Jameson Draper: Trey Burke. Caldwell-Pope was definitely a reasonable pick at this spot, but Burke thought eight was the lowest he could have gone, and with him still being available at eight, it was perfect for the Pistons, too. Figuring they don’t re-sign Calderon, Burke would have been able to fill that role very nicely.
2. How do you grade the selection?
Patrick Hayes: B. I don’t hate the Caldwell-Pope selection. In fact, I predicted they’d take Shabazz Muhammad simply because Dumars has taken plenty of risks on talented prospects with red flags in the past, and I’m relieved they didn’t. I’d talked myself into his potential just because I felt like it was inevitable. At worst, Caldwell-Pope is probably a rotation player and at best, he gives the Pistons one of the new breed 3-and-D shooting guards the league is so hot on these days. He’s not a bad pick, it’s just unfortunate he’ll forever be judged based on Burke’s success, not his own.
Dan Feldman: B-. The Pistons chose the second-best player available, which isn’t half bad. I like Caldwell-Pope a good deal, and I think his efficiency and effort will make him a relative success with the Pistons. But the top player available presents considerable more value and plays a position of equal or greater need, and I won’t get over Detroit passing on Burke until they show their games on the court this season.
Jameson Draper: A. The Pistons still have faith in Knight becoming a good point guard in the NBA, and with that in mind, they definitely had a void to fill at shooting guard, and Caldwell-Pope is the perfect fit. Unlike current Pistons Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight (and possible draftee C.J. McCollum for that matter), Caldwell-Pope is a shooting guard – not a combo guard— which will bode well for his development. Seeing that he doesn’t have to learn which position he needs to play, he can jump right into learning how to play shooting guard in the NBA.
3. What’s the most important thing the Pistons can do to ensure his success?
Patrick Hayes: Surround him with talent. No more Brandon Knight/Rodney Stuckey experiments at point guard. Move those guys into combo guard roles (or just plain move one or the other, preferably Stuckey), make Caldwell-Pope compete for the starting shooting guard spot with them and, if he’s successful (as he should be … it’s not like that’s overwhelming competition), immediately put him into the lineup and don’t play the games that this organization has played with young players in the past, keeping them buried behind limited veterans even when they’ve out-performed them.
Dan Feldman: Give him a chance to play with the Pistons’ best players. Once he built his confidence while playing in the second unit’s simplified scheme Drummond’s development was stagnated by the fact that he rarely got to play with the Pistons’ top players. Don’t repeat that mistake with Caldwell-Pope, who, because of his relatively rudimentary ball-handling skills, especially needs to play with Detroit’s top point guard. Don’t gift Caldwell-Pope minutes, but if he’s earned them, make sure the rotation allows him time with the rest of the team’s core.
Jameson Draper: Basically, the Pistons need to treat Caldwell-Pope in the opposite manner they tried to develop Brandon Knight. They need to keep him at shooting guard and slowly ease him into the system. By the middle of this season, Caldwell-Pope should be getting 25 minutes per game off the bench. They just can’t overly rely on him early in the season.