Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. We’ve seen Will Bynum do Will Bynum Things for six seasons now, so far this season he’s done much the same. How does he grade out so far?
Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered: We’ve kind of reached the point of no return with Bynum. He’s been the same guy for the past three years. He’ll wow you at times, he’ll make you groan at times, but he’s mostly just streaky. If we were to put together an All-Streaky Team, I think Bynum would have a strong shot at starting, and definitely a chance at the sixth man role. GRADE: C-
Tim Thielke, PistonPowered: What is there to say about Bynum? He has been basically the same player he has always been. I think it was a waste of next offseason’s cap space for Dumars to guarantee a second season. He just isn’t important enough to make that worthwhile. But he has done what was expected of him so far. GRADE: C
Chris Gaerig, Isiah Was a Prophet: Bynum is suffering through a post-contract-signing lull. Shooting .040 worse than last season and averaging almost a full assist and point less in the same time on the floor, the Pistons’ bench spark plug hasn’t shown the consistency or explosiveness that garnered him a $5 million paycheck. A recent few impressive games playing significant minutes may see him get more burn off the bench, however. GRADE: C
2. Perhaps the least exciting Pistons player, Kyle Singler has played a valuable role off the bench for the team — what grade does that yield?
Brady Fredericksen: His play is never going to wow you, but he’s always there. He’ll be a hero once or twice a year, and he’ll have impressive games where he scores well and rebounds the heck out of the ball. The role that Singler is in now is probably what his career is going to be — guy who makes some shots, brings intangibles and is relatively versatile. He’s probably been one of the Pistons most valuable players sheerly because he’s been able to fill (in spurts) so many holes. GRADE: B
Tim Thielke: I’ve been really impressed with Singler this season. Last year, I figured he was a decent get for where he was drafted but that he was not a player with virtually any room for growth. But this season, he has improved his shooting considerably and put up nearly identical stats in spite of playing fewer minutes. Also, most games he makes a really impressive play around the basket (at least, really impressive for a guy with low expectations). GRADE: B
Chris Gaerig, Isiah Was a Prophet: Hidden behind Singler’s poor perimeter shooting this season: he wasn’t all that good shooting from downtown last year. Averaging only slightly worse from outside this season (34.1% in ’13-’14; 35.0% in ’12-’13) in spite of a horrible opening month, Singler had an exceptional December, draining 46.7% of his three point attempts. Otherwise, he remained a practical clone of his rookie form: energy rebounder who spaces the floor and plays passable defense. The move to his preferred small forward position gives the Pistons more personnel flexibility but uncovers some defensive liabilities. GRADE: C+
3. The Pistons’ first-round pick, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, has had his moments this season — overall what has he graded out as at this point in the season?
Brady Fredericksen: I think Caldwell-Pope has room to grow — in basically every facet of his game — but he’s still been a valuable contributor so far. The Pistons could have chosen better players, that’s not even an argument. The thing is Caldwell-Pope has shown himself to be one of the better perimeter defenders from the class. The Pistons had no one capable of guarding athletic wing players going into the season, but Caldwell-Pope has been able to step in and be a solid, albeit still learning, defender. His shooting will come around, but in the meantime imagine what kind of terrible things opposing guards would be doing to the Pistons without him. GRADE: C+
Tim Thielke: Caldwell-Pope is probably the hardest player for me to grade because I don’t know where to set his baseline. He has not been nearly good enough for an 8th overall pick who isn’t a major “project”. On the other hand, he has been significantly better than I expected when I learned that KCP was the pick. After a rocky start, KCP has been shooting respectably of late and his D is very good. I guess I can’t blame Caldwell-Pope for Joe Dumars’ mistake. GRADE: B-
Chris Gaerig, Isiah Was a Prophet: There are no mincing words: KCP had an atrocious opening month. Since the end of November, however, he has averaged 7.4 PPG on 44.5% shooting and 39.3% from outside. Combine that with his improving rebounding ability and magnetic on-ball defense, and KCP shows the makings of the NBA’s coveted 3-and-D wing player. He still needs to improve—finishing at the rim, drawing fouls, and making his free throws, for instance—but recent performances show he’s closer to the player Joe Dumars thought he drafted than the overwhelmed rookie we saw in November. GRADE: C+