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3-on-3: Almost-midseason grades for Will Bynum, Kyle Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. We’ve seen Will Bynum do Will Bynum Things for six seasons now, so far this season he’s done much the same. How does he grade out so far?

Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered: We’ve kind of reached the point of no return with Bynum. He’s been the same guy for the past three years. He’ll wow you at times, he’ll make you groan at times, but he’s mostly just streaky. If we were to put together an All-Streaky Team, I think Bynum would have a strong shot at starting, and definitely a chance at the sixth man role. GRADE: C-

Tim Thielke, PistonPowered: What is there to say about Bynum? He has been basically the same player he has always been.  I think it was a waste of next offseason’s cap space for Dumars to guarantee a second season. He just isn’t important enough to make that worthwhile. But he has done what was expected of him so far. GRADE: C

Chris Gaerig, Isiah Was a ProphetBynum is suffering through a post-contract-signing lull. Shooting .040 worse than last season and averaging almost a full assist and point less in the same time on the floor, the Pistons’ bench spark plug hasn’t shown the consistency or explosiveness that garnered him a $5 million paycheck. A recent few impressive games playing significant minutes may see him get more burn off the bench, however. GRADE: C

2. Perhaps the least exciting Pistons player, Kyle Singler has played a valuable role off the bench for the team — what grade does that yield?

Brady Fredericksen: His play is never going to wow you, but he’s always there. He’ll be a hero once or twice a year, and he’ll have impressive games where he scores well and rebounds the heck out of the ball. The role that Singler is in now is probably what his career is going to be — guy who makes some shots, brings intangibles and is relatively versatile. He’s probably been one of the Pistons most valuable players sheerly because he’s been able to fill (in spurts) so many holes. GRADE: B

Tim Thielke: I’ve been really impressed with Singler this season. Last year, I figured he was a decent get for where he was drafted but that he was not a player with virtually any room for growth. But this season, he has improved his shooting considerably and put up nearly identical stats in spite of playing fewer minutes. Also, most games he makes a really impressive play around the basket (at least, really impressive for a guy with low expectations). GRADE: B

Chris Gaerig, Isiah Was a ProphetHidden behind Singler’s poor perimeter shooting this season: he wasn’t all that good shooting from downtown last year. Averaging only slightly worse from outside this season (34.1% in ’13-’14; 35.0% in ’12-’13) in spite of a horrible opening month, Singler had an exceptional December, draining 46.7% of his three point attempts. Otherwise, he remained a practical clone of his rookie form: energy rebounder who spaces the floor and plays passable defense. The move to his preferred small forward position gives the Pistons more personnel flexibility but uncovers some defensive liabilities. GRADE: C+

3. The Pistons’ first-round pick, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, has had his moments this season — overall what has he graded out as at this point in the season?

Brady Fredericksen: I think Caldwell-Pope has room to grow — in basically every facet of his game — but he’s still been a valuable contributor so far. The Pistons could have chosen better players, that’s not even an argument. The thing is Caldwell-Pope has shown himself to be one of the better perimeter defenders from the class. The Pistons had no one capable of guarding athletic wing players going into the season, but Caldwell-Pope has been able to step in and be a solid, albeit still learning, defender. His shooting will come around, but in the meantime imagine what kind of terrible things opposing guards would be doing to the Pistons without him. GRADE: C+

Tim Thielke: Caldwell-Pope is probably the hardest player for me to grade because I don’t know where to set his baseline. He has not been nearly good enough for an 8th overall pick who isn’t a major “project”. On the other hand, he has been significantly better than I expected when I learned that KCP was the pick. After a rocky start, KCP has been shooting respectably of late and his D is very good. I guess I can’t blame Caldwell-Pope for Joe Dumars’ mistake. GRADE: B-

Chris Gaerig, Isiah Was a ProphetThere are no mincing words: KCP had an atrocious opening month. Since the end of November, however, he has averaged 7.4 PPG on 44.5% shooting and 39.3% from outside. Combine that with his improving rebounding ability and magnetic on-ball defense, and KCP shows the makings of the NBA’s coveted 3-and-D wing player. He still needs to improve—finishing at the rim, drawing fouls, and making his free throws, for instance—but recent performances show he’s closer to the player Joe Dumars thought he drafted than the overwhelmed rookie we saw in November. GRADE: C+

12 Comments

  • Jan 16, 201410:32 am
    by Sean Corp

    Reply

    I’m thinking that the lights-out success of Andre Drummond last year has influenced your perception on the kind of impact a rookie can have. I think Chris is most in line with my take on KCP so far but I’m not sure why 44.5 percent shooting, 39% from deep and magnetic on-ball defense earns a rookie a C+. Tough crowd.

    • Jan 16, 201411:04 am
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      Cheeks already said it, but KCP would have better grades if he had shot 44.5 and 39 for the season. But we include November in what we are grading.

  • Jan 16, 201410:44 am
    by ITS OFFICIAL I HATE CHEEKS

    Reply

    44.5% and 39% for 3′s is since November or December overall…he’s shooting 40% and 34% for 3′s….
    His defense has been nice surprise…but offensively he is finally getting it…(seems that way)

  • Jan 16, 201411:05 am
    by Huddy

    Reply

    I think KCP’s grades are fair.  People keep saying “But his defense…” and in reality he has been good, but not stellar on defense and I think people over value what being an above average defender means for the Pistons.  Not that it is their fault.  Dumars forced us to be grateful that he can adequately guard wings by giving contracts to a horrible trio of defensive guards.  If Bynum/Billups/Jennings didn’t look incompetent on defense most of the time people might be more willing to take a harder look at KCP.

    • Jan 16, 20145:25 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      Yeah, but most of KCP’s faults on defense are rookie stuff. He’s not good at rotations, he has a bit of a tendency to ball watch, he sometimes struggles to fight off screens, and guys can push him around when they want to.  He needs to get smarter defensively and he needs to get stronger. That’s all typical of rookies. He’s somewhere in the above average to good range as a 20 year old rookie, which is really encouraging for him going forward. He could become an elite defender down the road.

      • Jan 17, 20149:00 am
        by Huddy

        Reply

        I agree with that.  I think it’s still fair that even if his faults are rookie related his play has been c+ to B.  I think too many people on here get defensive(not you specifically just in general) and ask for grades based on potential when the guys clearly state that they are grading a period of time or a specific game.  C+ doesn’t mean he won’t figure that stuff out by any means.  Everything graded on here turns into people complaining that mediocre performances should get F—-’s and decent performances should be A++++.  

        • Jan 17, 20144:48 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          Fair enough. I probably would have given him a B- if I was grading to be honest. He was really bad on offense for most of November, and his grades up to this point in the season should weigh his play roughly evenly between the months. I’d have given him a C- through November and an A- for since then, and settled on a B-. So yeah, C+ to B is totally within the range of what I think he deserves.
           
          My point was that they grade on a scale. Given that, KCP should probably get graded like he’s a really good defensive player and not merely an above average one because his expectations should be lower due to being a rookie. I don’t disagree with you saying the grade is right, but I do kind of disagree with the rationale you are using. I think he should be graded lower than most of the people complaining about this because he had a .433 true shooting percentage in November, and that’s nearly half of his games. I’d still give him a C- for that time period because his defense is that good, but he was a really bad offensive player for the first 14 games of the season. Your argument is a different one, namely that his defense is being overrated. I’d agree with that if they weren’t grading on a curve, but they are clearly grading on a curve.

  • Jan 16, 201412:06 pm
    by Mr Woods

    Reply

    I like KCP. I think he should work on his ball handling as well but I agree on Bynum. I think they should have let him walk for the $ he’s being paid. Bynum, Billups, Jerebko, Villanueva, Stuckey, Siva, Smith & Cheeks can all go. Im not in luv with Monroe neither. He plays like he’s 52 yrs old with bad knees and cement in his shoes.

  • Jan 16, 20142:03 pm
    by MIKEYDE248

    Reply

    Singler kinda reminds me of Prince.  He’s one of those guys that never really stands out, but can play almost any role on the team when needed.  His play lately has seemed like it’s picking up a little too.  Shots are falling a little better and he seems to be huslting around picking up rebounds and playing at least average defense.

  • Jan 16, 20146:47 pm
    by Jay wiz

    Reply

    just need KCP to continue to improve. It’s been an encouraging sight to see him find his nitch with the team. Not many rookies put up stellar shooting numbers their first season the league. As his comfort level continues to grow he has the potential to be a legitimate starter by the end of the season. He wasn’t supposed to be a guy that goes for 20 a night. If he gets his average to around 12, and low 40′s from deep I’d call that a successful year. 

  • Jan 16, 20149:09 pm
    by Nick N

    Reply

    I agree with Mr. Woods. If Kcp develops a crossover he would be the steal of the draft. The other rookies are better right now because there teams are not trying to make the playoffs and they get more playing time. With the energy he brings Kcp can easily be the Paul George of this draft if he just develops a crossover.

    • Jan 17, 201411:30 am
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      Among rookies, only McLemore, Oladipo and MCW have played more minutes.

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