The young Detroit Piston has started his season off with a bang by lighting up the Orlando Summer League.
The NBA offers a steep learning curve. Players coming out of college often struggle in their first few years as a pro, discovering what it takes to make it in the NBA. A classic example of this process in action was Kentavious Caldwell-Popes rookie season.
The shooting guard out of Georgia enjoyed a successful college career, thriving as a scorer who gets his points via his jump shot. After being drafted 8th by the Detroit Pistons there where big expectations for Caldwell-Pope’s rookie season; expectations that quickly had to managed. Caldwell-Pope shot 34.0% from the field and 27.5% from beyond the arc during his 1st full month in the league and while Caldwell-Pope improved on these figures he still finished the season with a disappointing 39.6% field goal percentage.
Hope, however, has been renewed as Caldwell-Pope has clearly taken the summer to put in some seriously hard work. Caldwell-Pope has put in some blistering performances over the first 3 games of this year’s Orlando Summer League. Averaging 27.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and even hitting the game winning 3 yesterday against the Miami Heat, the young shooting guard is beginning to look like the prospect that many hoped he would be.
Of course, we must remember that we are talking about the Summer League. The competition is no where near as fast, intense or difficult as the NBA, yet it can be an indication that a player is ready to make serious contributions for an NBA franchise.
What is promising is that Caldwell-Pope’s shooting stroke is on song, shooting 44.0% from the field and 39.1% from beyond the arc. This is the type of thing that should carry over into the season, even if his scoring touch does not.
The road to NBA success is long and hard but it seems as though Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be taking his first steps down that path.