Now entering his 4th NBA season, with the Detroit Pistons, big things are expected from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope moving forward.
Before the start of the 2015-16 season, Detroit Pistons’ fans expected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to take a leap forward going into his third NBA season. He succeeded in doing so, particularly on the defensive end.
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Caldwell-Pope averaged 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game last season. These aren’t glamorous numbers, but he certainly had a huge impact for the Detroit Pistons.
Caldwell-Pope made significant strides as a lockdown defender, as most nights he was assigned to guard the opposing team’s best scorer. On nights when he wasn’t checking the opponent’s top wing scorer, he would match up with the opposing point guard.
He was called upon to fight through screens, chase around his assignment, and show tremendous hustle. He kept the hustle up while leading the Detroit Pistons with 36.7 minutes per game and was fourth in the NBA behind only James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls.
Not only did he make strides on defensive end but there were also improvements on the offensive end of his game as well. Piston fans saw a new aspect of Caldwell-Pope’s game that they had never seen before. He developed an ability to operate and make plays in the pick and roll, and his ball handling was vastly improved from the season before.
His field goal percentage even rose up to 42 percent from the field from the previous season where he shot 40 percent from the field.
However, Caldwell-Pope took a dip in his three-point percentage which dropped down to 30.9 percent. This could have possibly been because of all the work he was forced to do on the defensive ends. There’s no question that might have taken a toll on the offensive end.
But, that might not be a problem this year as coach Stan Van Gundy has emphatically expressed that he intends to cut down the minutes for the Pistons’ best defender.
This year the Pistons are hoping for consistency from him this year. Specifically, from behind the three-point line. In his second NBA season in 2014-15 Caldwell-pope shot 34.5 percent from long range. Even dating back to college when he played for Georgia, he shot 37.3 percent from beyond the arc in his sophomore and final season.
The potential is certainly there for KCP. If he can bring his shooting closer to league average and maintain his strong defense and ball handling, he’ll be an impactful player this season for the Detroit Pistons as they look to build off last year’s promising campaign.