With many young players poised to play big minutes in 2013-14, the Detroit Pistons have a great opportunity to analyze their roster during the Orlando Summer League.
It's the first chance Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the shooting guard from Georgia, and other rookies get to play with their new teammates. It's also a chance for GM Joe Dumars and head coach Maurice Cheeks to see how they match up against NBA competition.
For Andre Drummond it's the chance to be the go-to guy in the paint without having to play behind Greg Monroe. He also gets the chance to develop his game.
For the rest of the roster, summer league gives them the opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation, or even just to make the team. It's a chance to play big minutes and prove they belong on an NBA team.
Caldwell-Pope as the top scoring option
One of the biggest reasons the Pistons drafted Caldwell-Pope was his ability to score, specifically from the three-point arc. With Monroe and the newly signed Josh Smith at home, he gets the chance to be their No.1 option offensively.
Maz Trakh, who is coaching the summer league team, told NBA.com that he has continually given Caldwell-Pope the green light to look for scoring opportunities.
I said to him before every game, ‘You know what I want you to do?’ And he said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Shoot.’ I asked him today and he said, ‘Yeah, shoot.’ He’s got that question down.
Through the first three games he has done just that, attempting 33 field goals, including 24 threes. He struggled in the first two, shooting just 4-of-20 overall and a dismal 1-of-14 from deep, scoring 15 points total.
He didn't let that shake his confidence, having a breakout game Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not only did he score 19 points and make four three-pointers, but he also grabbed six rebounds and had one highlight-reel dunk.
Most importantly, he showed the ability to score in a variety of ways. He showed off his shooting range, but also a pretty mid-range jumper and the ability to create offense with his defense.
He won't be asked to carry the offensive load for the Pistons during the regular season, but Caldwell-Pope looks like he has the talent to play a major role for them from day one.
Andre Drummond's continued development
The other star of summer league so far for Detroit has been Drummond, the second-year center from UConn.
After averaging 7.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in just 20.7 minutes per game as a rookie, the big man is expected to play an even larger role in his sophomore campaign.
Former Piston big man Rasheed Wallace was brought in specifically to help teach him and Monroe. And according to ESPN's Michael Wallace, Trakh stated that he had specific areas for Drummond to focus on in Orlando.
My emphasis when we came down here is that, 'I want you to run.' Once he starts running, good things are going to happen. His low-post game is going to get better, no doubt about it.
He has taken the coaching to heart, showing a willingness to run the floor in his first two games (he did not play against the Boston Celtics).
Against the Thunder he got an easy dunk just six seconds into the shot clock by running the court and filling the lane after a rebound.
The play is set up by point guard Peyton Siva's ability to beat his man off the dribble and get to the rim, but the Pistons only got the basket because Drummond got himself down the court and in position to make a play at the basket.
With the additions of Caldwell-Pope and Smith, the Pistons will be looking to play a higher tempo of basketball this season. As long as Drummond continues to work on his conditioning, his athleticism will let him fit in with that style of play.
Potential rotation players in 2013-14
Beyond Caldwell-Pope and Drummond, the summer league roster is made up of players who barely played last season, as well as those trying to make an NBA roster for the first time. These five games give the coaching staff a chance to see if any of them are capable of playing meaningful minutes during the regular season.
Viacheslav Kravtsov may have helped himself more than any of the remaining players. He finished with 11 points and four boards in less than 15 minutes against the Nets. He followed that performance up with nine points and eight rebounds against the Celtics, starting in place of Drummond.
If he can continue to play at this level, the Ukrainian big man will appear in more than 25 games this season, even in their crowded frontcourt.
Khris Middleton, who averaged 17.6 minutes in 27 appearances last season, had one of their best performances from the perimeter so far.
He didn't play against the Thunder because of a sprained ankle and only saw 12 minutes against the Celtics, but he was excellent against the Nets. He finished with 16 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes.
The Pistons are looking for more outside shooting on the wing, and he shot just 31.1 percent last year from the arc. Improving that number will help him earn minutes off the bench on the wing.
Kim English also has the chance to earn more minutes this season, but he has struggled mightily thus far. He has scored 18 points on 5-of-23 shooting, including an 0-of-8 performance against the Celtics.
No. 37 pick Tony Mitchell has shown off his athleticism, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots, but his offensive game is a work in progress. He has scored just 16 points in over 70 minutes.
Peyton Siva, the No. 56 pick, has had an up-and-down summer league, although he's likely played well enough to make the roster.
Against he Nets he had a very well-rounded game, with six points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. He wasn't as effective against the Celtics, finishing with just four points and two assists.
His best offensive game came against the Thunder, when he finished with 12 points and seven assists. But defensively he was matched up at times with Reggie Jackson, who set an Orlando Summer League record with 35 points.
With Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and the newly re-signed Will Bynum, there won't be many minutes for Siva in his first season.
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