Detroit Pistons: Caldwell-Pope shines at summer league

The Detroit Pistons are salivating over the show Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put on at the 2014 Orlando Pro Summer League last week. KCP finished as the event’s top scorer, averaging 24 points-per-game across five contests.

The first of the NBA’s two summer leagues featured 10 NBA teams and ran from July 5-11 at the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center.

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Caldwell-Pope, 21, has been a bonafide scorer since his high school days, known for his deadly shooting and ability to make pull-up jump shots off the dribble. The Pistons took him with the eighth pick of last year’s draft because of his ability to shoot and score.

However, KCP was held to just 19:46 minutes-per-game during his rookie campaign because he wasn’t consistent with his shot. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard did show glimpses of greatness at times, especially on the defensive end, where his presence was immediately felt.

But if the summer league is any indication, Caldwell-Pope looks ready to shine in his second year in the league. With averages of 24 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals while making a third of his three-pointers, KCP was arguably the best player in Orlando.

Summer league is a chance for the rookies, undrafted free agents and younger players of the league to showcase their stuff. Team rosters are comprised of this younger brood of NBA talent and sometimes even aging veterans trying to prove they still have it. You can check out the roster the Pistons used here.

No, the stars don’t come out to play during summer league contests, and no, it doesn’t offer the stiffest competition by any means. Still, KCP deserves kudos for what he put on display.

He was hitting his pull-up jumper, attacking the rim, crashing the boards, and most importantly, being a vocal leader. The Pistons, who finished the league with a 3-2 record, have to be more than pleased with the performance of last year’s first-round pick.

After and up-and-down rookie year last season, it appears the game is beginning to slow down for KCP. This becomes even more evident when you check out his stats from last year’s summer league.

As a rookie in Orlando, KCP shot a meager 37 percent from the field while making only 22.6 percent of his three-point attempts. This year, he raised those numbers to 40.4 percent from the field and 33.33 percent from long range while playing more minutes.

Caldwell-Pope also proved he could be clutch in crunch-time. In the third game against the Miami Heat, KCP had just two points at halftime. He finished the game with 26 points, icing a Piston win with the go-ahead three-pointer with 6.6 seconds left.

The Pistons hit a snag when they lost their first-round pick during this year’s draft, where they could have drafted a needed shooting threat. Caldwell-Pope’s performance in Orlando has me less worried about losing that pick. KCP was cool, calm, and collected during this year’s summer league.

He looks primed to bring it all together for Detroit when the regular season begins in October.