Summer League has been going on for the NBA. Most of the attention goes to the Las Vegas Summer League, because, you know, it's in Las Vegas, which tends to be more conducive to drawing reporters and hoops writers and such. However, there is also a Summer League in Orlando, which is where the Pistons played. Orlando Summer League is over, and you could make the argument that the best player there was a Detroit Piston, and that player in question in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
You may remember Caldwell-Pope. He was a rookie last year out of Georgia. The Pistons picked him eighth overall, in lieu of a point guard like Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams. They opted for a shooting guard, traded for Brandon Jennings, and... well, you know how that went. KCP really made an impression at Orlando Summer League. He was the top scorer with 24 points per game. Nobody else averaged more than 19. He also averaged 7.6 rebounds, as a wing player mind you, and 1.8 steals per game. Those are solid numbers. Encouraging numbers. Then again... just how encouraged should we be?
This is, after all, Orlando Summer League. We're talking about a five game sample size. Also, Caldwell-Pope is a sophomore, and he was playing against a lot of rookies and NBA hangers on looking for a job. The second leading scorer was Casper Ware. Then again, there were some other second year players, and KCP's numbers were equal or better to any of them. I mean, you can't really take away anything negative from KCP's performance here, right? It can't hurt.
It was also nice for KCP to get a chance to really play and handle the ball. He averaged 30.2 minutes per game and jacked up 94 shots. During his rookie year, Caldwell-Pope was a major league afterthought. The Pistons had guys like Jennings, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond on the team. There was only so many touches to go around. KCP played 19.8 minutes per game, but had a usage rate of 13.9%. Caldwell-Pope was thought of as a three-and-D guy in the draft, and he did attempt 2.3 three per game, but he only made 31.9% of them. That needs to improve. Getting shots up in the Summer League can't hurt. He won't see as much of the ball when the season begins, of course, but when he does, he should be better with it.
Last season, KCP was another unimpressive rookie in an unimpressive rookie class. He only had 1.8 Win Shares and a 9.4 PER. The Pistons will likely need more from him this season. After his breakout performance at Orlando Summer League, it seems like they will. The question now becomes just how much excitement or positivity we should take from this. KCP won't be competing against the Casper Ware's of the world when the real NBA season begins.