KCP finished with a flourish in Orlando, looking every bit the part of a strong and athletic player who can impact the game at both ends. He’s going to be dealing with a number of talented, veteran guards in the rotation, but he’s got the best long-term potential of the group as a shooting guard.
Thorpe’s early grouping of Rookie of the Year candidates lists Caldwell-Pope in a pretty diverse group of guys in the running.
However, he’s listed as one of three rookies who, despite impressing in Summer League, won’t be in the running for the award; joining Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroeder and Phoenix shooting guard Archie Goodwin.
Considering Caldwell-Pope played pretty poorly for half of the games in Orlando, it’s actually a pretty positive take from Thorpe. What people have kind of ignored is that, slow start aside, he really took off in the final games of the week.
His role is simple; he’s a role player. He’s not going to have to try to make all the plays like a Michael Carter-Williams in Philly or Trey Burke in Utah (though, that helps for this award). All Caldwell-Pope is really going to be relied upon for is defense and perimeter shooting — kind of Detroit’s version of Danny Green, if you will.
The Pistons desperately needed a 3-point shooter (or three) going into this offseason, and at this point he’s got a pretty good chance of being one of the guys Mo Cheeks throws onto the court to help give the Josh Smith-Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond frontcourt some breathing room.
There probably isn’t a great chance he ends up as the Rookie of the Year, but with the recent run of success the Pistons have had with putting rookies on the All-Rookie teams — Jonas Jerebko in 2009, Monroe in 2010, Brandon Knight in 2011 and Drummond last season — if Caldwell-Pope can hit some shots and play decent enough defense to play 20-25 minutes, he could very well slide into that.
But, if just to humor you on the idea of Caldwell-Pope being Rookie of the Year, Mike Miller did win the award back in 2001 after putting up a rather modest 12-4-2 line while playing for a lowly-seeded Magic team.