Kentavious Caldwell-Pope awakens at Orlando Summer League

ORLANDO — It seemed as though the Pistons had Tuesday’s game against the Thunder well in hand, leading by 11 points entering the fourth quarter.

Well, with this being Florida, that all changed when the hurricane of all hurricanes struck — Hurricane Reggie Jackson — and with it came an array of jumpers, trash talking and an eventual Thunder victory, 79-75.

The third-year guard is far-and-away the most accomplished player in Orlando this week, and it showed in the fourth quarter when he just willed the Thunder back. Jackson isolated, and isolated, and what do you know, isolated some more. He playfully yapped at the Pistons’ bench and those who tried to defend him, Kim English, among others, barely fazed him.

That’s fine and dandy, but this is the NBA Summer League; guys like Jackson and Drummond should toss up huge numbers.

There are normally two things to expect when it comes to summer league: real, genuine effort from fringe guys basically trying out for 30 teams in one week and conversely sloppy basketball.

Tuesday’s game provided a little bit of both, and shockingly (sloppily) enough, the Pistons’ extremely meaningful summer league loss was actually an extremely entertaining one thanks, in part, to the quiet coming out of rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

It was only a matter of time before he brushed off the first-time nerves and started showing glimpses of why the Pistons drafted him with the No. 8 pick in June. He was streaky — doing most of his damage in the third quarter where he score 11 of 19 points — but when he was on during that stretch, he was really on.

You’d like to see him not settle for jumper after jumper and drive a little, but he’s showing some confidence in his shot. I’ll have a more in-depth post about KCP after talking to him today, too. Oh, and for those keeping score on this at home, Trey Burke shot 5-for-15 today with five turnovers in a Utah loss to Houston.

Peyton Siva

I always liked Siva during his days at Louisville because he never seemed rattled. From Big East championship game at Madison Square Garden to the National Title Game at the Georgia Dome, Siva always plays within himself.

That was the same vibe I got after he dropped an efficient line of 12 points, seven assists and just one turnover. He’s not the biggest, but he’s as quick as advertised with the ball and once he gets a pick — especially the monstrous-sized ones via Andre Drummond — he knows exactly where he wants to go with the ball after. He made two of four from deep two, a good sign for a guy with a questionable jumper.

Andre Drummond

He wasn’t dominating like he was in the team’s summer-league opener, but he was still a force on the boards. There were plenty of times where he tried to dribble-drive and shot those baseline fadeaways that make you groan, but he, like the rest of the team, picked up the energy in the second half.

Thunder rookie Steven Adams did an admirable job bumping Drummond around, but once the second half rolled around, Drummond’s energy cranked up and the entire team kind of followed suit. He’s still got work to do as a player, but physically he’s a man among boys here in Orlando.

Ryan Evans

Dan said it yesterday, but he’s got some real skills (and a great baby-sized, high-top fade) but he just doesn’t have enough range to stick around. I love his effort, he’s not afraid to body up on anyone and he seems to have a high IQ when it comes to court awareness, knowing where to be, etc.

He’s one of those guys who you kind of want to see succeed — possibly because you know it’d be like rooting for the underdog of all underdogs.

Travis Peterson

Big, tall, shoots 3-pointers. He’s basically the pasty reincarnation of Rasheed, right?

EJ Singler

Known as “#ThreeJaySingler” to some folks at the University of Oregon, Kyle’s little brother got his first real action with Khris Middleton out with an ankle injury. He, like Peterson, won’t be making the team, and he suffers from the same problem, albeit more so, that his older brother does — he’s not athletic enough to be a real contributor. Every summer league team needs some nepotism or family though, right?

Korey Lucious

If you told me four years ago that Kalin Lucas’ backup at Michigan State, then Lucious, would be competing for an NBA roster spot today, I would have laughed at you. Lucious doesn’t stand a puncher’s chance of making the Pistons, but he played pretty well on Tuesday.

He’s a little lackadaisical with the ball — but all point guards in summer league kind of are because of the sloppy plays and confused players running them — but his shot has been pretty consistent. He’s not afraid to take an open shot though, and unlike some guys in summer league, he’s pretty confident in showing what he can do. He knows his situation, so I applaud him for being able to just play.

Tags: Andre Drummond EJ Singler Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Korey Lucious Kyle Singler Peyton Siva Ryan Evans Tony Mitchell Travis Peterson

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