When the Pistons passed on Michigan’s Trey Burke and drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in June, it felt as though the entire Barclays Center went silent. The Pistons passed on the known for the unknown.
One month later, the Pistons flipped the script, forgoing on the unknown in free agency for an old acquaintance in Chauncey Billups, who was welcomed back by many in his introduction press conference with applause.
Welcome to the battle for the Pistons starting shooting guard spot.
Both Billups (No. 245) and Caldwell-Pope (No. 234) debuted in the #NBArank countdown on Wednesday, representing two players who will need to have roles to make this Pistons team work. Those roles aren’t going to be anything monumental, but as it’s been noted everywhere, the Pistons big weakness is that they can’t really shoot.
Luckily, that’s what these two bring to the table.
Though their careers are trending different directions, both players should be valuable as perimeter shooters/scorers. Caldwell-Pope showed signs of his scoring and shooting ability in the summer, while Billups had a few good moments with the Clippers in last season’s playoffs.
Realistically, if Billups is the starter, he isn’t playing the majority of the minutes at shooting guard anyways. Caldwell-Pope will still see time — as well as the yet-to-be-ranked duo of Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum — and Billups will have his chance to run the offense as a point guard, too.
If anything, Billups role this season will be as a shooter, a leader and a guy who can hopefully reel in the sometimes overly-boisterous Brandon Jennings.
Caldwell-Pope could, and should, be more. He’s still rail-thin, and he’s going to have to adjust to the NBA game after spending his college career in the basketball-blah SEC, but he’s got the talent to earn playing time. If all he proves to be is a 3-and-D player in 2013, that’s actually alright.
Two guys ranked near Caldwell-Pope — Nick Young and Francisco Garcia — each have some, but not all, of the parts of an uber-valuable role player. Just to be clear, this does not mean Caldwell-Pope is like Young, but if he shoots 3-pointers at an above average level like Young, that’s good.
If he’s a guy who knows his role and place like Garcia, that’s also a good trait to have in a rookie. Who knows what the NBA-version of Caldwell-Pope will look like, but if he can shoot and put it on the floor a bit like Young, while still bringing some defense and intangibles like Garcia, that’s a win.
Either way, both will see the floor (probably together at times) and give the Pistons a much-needed boost at that off-guard spot.
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