According to Pistons.com’s Keith Langlois, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will get an opportunity to prove he deserves to play major minutes for head coach Stan Van Gundy at shooting guard and small forward next season.
The Pistons are going to watch for evidence Caldwell-Pope is consistently the best player on the floor in Summer League. His rookie season was up and down, but he finished with a flourish in a 30-point explosion at Oklahoma City that filled him with confidence. Whom Van Gundy sways in free agency will dictate some of Caldwell-Pope’s 2014-15 role, but the 21-year-old will determine the bulk of it.
KCP struggled in Orlando last July, heading into his rookie season. The former Georgia Bulldog averaged 29 minutes per game, shot 23% from three, and averaged two turnovers a game.
Pope struggled during the first half of the season to find any rhythm under then head coach Maurice Cheeks. He could not find consistency through the playing time that was given to him his rookie year.
Despite playing nearly 20 minutes a game and about 30 minutes a game in January, KCP struggled finding the bottom of the net. He averaged just six points per game while shooting 40% from the field.
Despite disappointing on offense last season, Caldwell-Pope played some of the best defense of the 2013 rookie class. He also finished the year with the best Turnover Percentage of the league, coughing it up just over 5 times per 100 possessions.
He was also third among rookies in steals per game.
The one question that Stan Van Gundy needs an answer to is if he can find some type of consistency with his shot. If he can prove throughout Summer League and the preseason that he can score at a consistent clip, he deserves to be a starter for the opener of the 2014-15 regular season.
Detroit is going to target wing players that can score no matter what, but the fate of KCP’s playing time is in his own hands. Oftentimes, second year players begin to blossom into the talent that executives believed they drafted.
For Caldwell-Pope, that seems like the progression he’s following.
Summer League Notes
Summer League in Orlando will give the Pistons coaching staff a chance to really evaluate some of the young talent in the organization. As mentioned, Bob Beyer will coach the summer league Pistons and joining him will be longtime Pistons assistant Brendan Malone, who joined Van Gundy’s staff after coaching with his son in Sacramento.
The Pistons have also invited former UCF forward Tristan Spurlock and Canisus College center Jordan Heath to compete on the Summer League roster.