Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's promising freshman season made him a prospect to watch as a sophomore.
And K.C.P. didn't disappoint.
He was this year's SEC Player of the Year after averaging 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds for Georgia.
Now, Caldwell-Pope is one of the hottest names during the pre-draft process, as he's slowly risen up boards and into lottery discussion.
Caldwell-Pope has the ideal physical tools required for the NBA shooting-guard position. He's 6'5.5'' with long arms and smooth athleticism.
It wouldn't hurt for him to add weight (204 pounds), which might make life easier for him as a finisher at the rim.
But overall, Caldwell-Pope looks the part physically. Maybe the play that highlights his athleticism and physical tools the most is this steal and dunk he had against Georgia Tech:
Caldwell-Pope is what you call a perimeter scorer. He averaged seven three-point attempts per game, which just goes to show how much he relies on his jumper.
With the ball in his hands, he's capable of separating off the dribble before rising and firing. He's actually more comfortable pulling up than he is taking it all the way to the rack. By taking one dribble and a pull-up instead of attacking traffic at the rim, he's able to get himself a more balanced and fluid shot:
Caldwell-Pope has deep, NBA range with a clean catch-and-release delivery. Having him in the game will improve the offensive spacing given his ability to stretch the floor as a long-range threat. He knocked down 2.6 three-pointers a game this past season, getting them off with ease thanks to a quick trigger.
Check out how effortless his stroke looks from close to 27 feet away:
He's considered one of the better shooters in the draft, which when you combine with his athleticism becomes a potent offensive weapon.
Caldwell-Pope's size and athleticism should translate in the slashing game. He's got the quickness and fluidity to attack the rim and finish, though he doesn't have the shiftiness to change directions on the way.
Watch Caldwell-Pope hit the gap and take a line drive to the hole.
Caldwell-Pope is a defensive stud. His presence is constantly felt, which is somewhat rare for a scoring guard on the opposite side of the ball.
He's got active feet and lightning quick hands he uses to shadow and harass his defensive assignments. The shooting guard averaged two steals a game, pick-pocketing ball-handlers and intercepting passers.
Below, Caldwell-Pope puts on a defensive clinic, keeping his eye on his man and the ball at the same time. Watch how he defends his man off the ball before attacking the ball-handler and coming up with the steal:
He's also an excellent rebounder, showing a willingness to box out and crash the glass. Caldwell-Pope averaged an impressive 7.1 boards as a sophomore, a standout number for a guard or wing.
He's not the most creative scorer you've ever seen, is somewhat limited off the dribble and doesn't project as an isolation scorer.
He needs to work on his in-between game— getting to the line, attacking the rim and creating easier shots for himself in the mid-range.
Shooting consistency will also help determine his value as an NBA player; he missed five or more three-pointers in a game 13 times this past year. He shot 30.4 percent from downtown as a freshman and 37.3 percent as a sophomore, numbers that wouldn't suggest he's an elite three-point shooter.
To his credit, he was the focal point of every opposing defense he faced, so many of his shots were contested.
But by increasing his reliability as a shooter, he'll increase his value to a rotation.
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
Caldwell-Pope is right in the mix in that late-to-mid first-round range.
He'll be trying to fight off UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, California's Allen Crabbe and Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. for draft position.
In comparison, Caldwell-Pope is the top defender and second best pound-for-pound athlete behind Hardaway Jr.
But if we're talking the most balanced prospect, Caldwell-Pope might be the pick based on his two-way appeal.
Teams will likely start off using him the same way Wesley Matthews is used in Portland—for spreading the floor, knocking down shots, finishing drives and defending the perimeter.
Minnesota at No. 9, Portland at No. 10, Philadelphia at No. 11, Utah at No. 14 and Atlanta at No. 17 and No. 18 all seem like fits.
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