With Chauncey Billups out of the Detroit Pistons lineup with tendonitis in his knee, rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope cracked the starting lineup for the first time this season on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings and posted seven points, two rebounds, and two assists in 21 minutes of playing time. Kings rookie Ben McLemore, whom was also in the starting rotation in the first time, scored an identical seven points, yet played 11 more minutes than KCP.
KCP’s numbers weren’t eye-popping, by any means, but he was very solid against a strong offensive team in the Sacramento Kings and perhaps proved that he deserves to be in a Pistons lineup that desperately needs perimeter shooting. Injured starter Chauncey Billups is off to a disappointing start to the season, posting career lows in virtually every statistical category on the year. Billups wasn’t signed to provide a spark to the Pistons offense. He was signed to provide veteran leadership to a young roster and act as a coach to the Pistons’ young guards.
Though backup shooting guard and 6th man Rodney Stuckey played 30 minutes to KCP’s 21, Stuckey has thrived in the backup role, and has posted solid numbers while leading an effective Piston’s bench. Though Stuckey has posted better numbers than Caldwell-Pope thus far, Stuckey’s future with the Pistons is in doubt, as his contract expires at the end of this season and may be the teams top candidate for a trade in the near future. I very seriously doubt coach Maurice Cheeks would mess with a formula that has been relatively successful thus far, and because of the reasons listed above, I would expect Stuckey to retain his 6th man role until he is either traded or injuries leave Cheeks no choice.
Stuckey is most effective off the bench, and Billups has been ineffective on the court thus far. Though Cheeks is admittedly wary of rookies and would probably prefer to start a veteran, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a solid perimeter shooter and defender. Whether or not he becomes the Pistons shooting guard of the future will on
ly be told in time, especially as long as Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, and Greg Monroe remain the primary scoring options for the team.
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KCP has star potential based on his scoring touch and athleticism alone, but until the team finds it’s stride and chemistry, expect him to be labeled a “three-and-d” guy until further notice. A “three-and-d” is, however, exactly what the Detroit Pistons starters need.