Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been unstoppable.
After a weak rookie campaign fans and media alike were questioning if KCP was the right pick at eighth overall; what a difference a year makes. After averaging a blazing 27.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.7 steals this year, there’s only one question on everyone’s mind.
Can KCP carry his success into the regular season?
Summer League success hasn’t always translated to regular season success. Take a look at the crop of players two years ago in Damian Lillard and Kent Bazemore. Lillard (26.5 ppg in S.L play) went on to be rookie of the year for the Trailblazers while Bazemore (19.6 ppg in S.L play) went on to average 4.4 minutes per game for the Lakers.
Then there’s the guys in between like Oklahoma City Thunder’s Reggie Jackson.
Last year, he shined in Summer League play — averaging 19.5 ppg and 13.1 in the regular season. Jackson’s role changed immensely from backup point guard to the guy replacing Russell Westbrook thanks to injury.
That opportunity lead to a coming out party for Jackson, who looks like a bona fide starter playing next to Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka.
Aside from talent — a player’s role, the talent around him, and the coaching staff, are all big factors in determining whether or not his success in Summer League play is fool’s gold.
Or a small sample size of things to come.
Based on the factors above, KCP’s success looks like a small sample of what’s to come in 2014 despite what could be considered a crowded back court.
Last season the Pistons finished 29th in three-point shooting and struggled to find consistent scoring from their guards. As a result the biggest priority for SVG in the off-season has been adding perimeter threats.
The pistons started the free agent period strong with the signings of Jodie Meeks and Cartier Martin.
Yet it’s been the development of KCP that’s been something of a revelation. He should be given every opportunity to show the staff what he’s got.
Watching KCP in action — it’s clear that he has a chance to be a star.
He has an effortless release and his progression from one off-season to the next indicates a high ceiling.
More importantly he’s a two-way player so the coaching staff will feel confident leaving him on the floor when he hasn’t got in going on offense.
That alone should give him the edge in playing time over Meeks and Martin.
With a new coaching staff and new found confidence, there’s no reason to think that KCP won’t be able to carry his success into the regular season for the Pistons.