Scouting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
As we get approach the 2013 NBA Draft, we are reaching out to local experts to help us scout some of the players the Hawks may take in the first round. We had Mr. Sanchez from Dawgsports.com help us scout Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
What are his strengths? Weaknesses?
I’ll start with his weaknesses. He’s physically weak. Not badly, and he should improve as he matures and continues to work. But initially, veteran NBA players should be able to bully him some. His ball handling could use some work as well.
He has plenty of strengths though. He’s typical size for an NBA SG and has the athleticism to play the position well. He’s quick and an explosive leaper, which shows on several come-from-behind blocks he made this past season on opponents’ fast breaks. He’s a good rebounder for a SG. He’s a good passer, and has an excellent shot, both catch-and-shoot and off the dribble. He was the focus point of Georgia’s offense, but when he was having a bad night or opponents focused hard on him, he would get others involved to help produce in ways besides scoring. He also looked to put in a lot of work improving his game between his freshman and sophomore seasons, so that bodes well for his NBA future as someone who will be coachable and work hard.
What did he add to his team in college? What do you think he’ll bring to an NBA team?
He added everything to his college team. He was the leading rebounder, scorer, top wing defender, facilitator on offense a lot of times. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to help win, which was good because he didn’t have much help from his teammates.
What he’ll bring to the NBA depends on who lands him. He isn’t going to be an instant star or anything like that. But he should be able to step in as a starter or sixth man. If he has perimeter stars around him, he can be an excellent complimentary player to a dominant PG or strong SF. He can fill a role well, and knocking down open shots, moving the ball around, and working hard defensively. He’d be an excellent fit on a lot of teams, although unfortunately it seems the hometown Hawks would be among those who need him least with John Jenkins and Lou Williams on the roster.
What kind of style is he best suited for?
He could work in several styles. He has experience going it alone, so he could quickly mesh well with a team that runs a lot of iso offensively. He’s a good passer, and moves well without the ball, so he’d be just fine for a team that runs a lot of half court sets. He is a good athlete, so he’d work well in an up-tempo, pressing style. He is a solid all around player that could adjust his game to best suit whatever system his team uses.
What sets him apart from other draft prospects at his position?
None of the other SGs in the draft have had his level of responsibility. Guys like Oladipo, McLemore, Hardaway Jr, and others were on loaded teams. They had several NBA caliber teammates to help lighten their loads. They had big time guards and strong post players fighting for the opponent’s attention and game planning. Caldwell-Pope was it for Georgia. Opponents focused on him, and him alone, and he still found ways to succeed. He had no other NBA caliber teammates this past season, and had opponents trying everything possible to slow him down, and posted excellent numbers anyway.
What NBA player would you compare him to?
Some Georgia fans compared him to long-time NBA veteran Shandon Anderson, and that one can work pretty well. A player who can be solid in a lot of areas, and plays a significant role for a lot of years but never excels or stars. His upside may be a little thinner version of James Harden.
What’s your favorite memory of him at Georgia?
Do I have to pick just one?
The come-from-behind blocks were huge jaw-dropping plays. He had those big dunks late in the game to put away the win over Kentucky this year. And he had a shootout with Jordan McRae of Tennessee in the game before where it seemed like they were just trading long range threes all night. Those two games stand out the most this past year.
Here’s what some of the national mock drafts are saying about Caldwell-Pope:
YahooSports.com Analysis: The Hawks clearly have a need at shooting guard, as Lou Williams still came off the bench even when he was healthy. Caldwell-Pope, the SEC player of the year, averaged 18.5 points and should be a very good 3-point shooter in the NBA. And I’m guessing that unlike Dwight Howard, he wouldn’t mind playing in Atlanta after starring at UGA. He’s also a solid defensive player, and really looks like a perfect fit for the Hawks.
ESPN.com Analysis: Right now, Caldwell-Pope is one of the fastest risers on NBA draft boards. He is a terrific shooter and a very good athlete.
NBA.com Analysis: Offensive threat who has spent two seasons in a system that creates a lot of shooting opportunities. To put it another way: he took nearly 43 percent of Georgia’s threes in 2012-13.
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