For the second consecutive season the NBA Salary Cap will increase, giving teams more leverage in free agency and giving players ridiculous contracts. Last season with the first increase we saw some eye-popping contracts giving out even for reserves, with Ian Mahinmi’s four-year/$74 million deal. What about a two-guard in a league where very few exist? One who is a reliable shooter, a defensive dynamo and has good athleticism?
That player is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Through his first four seasons with the Detroit Pistons the per-game averages seem a little underwhelming with 11.7 points, 3 rebounds and 1.6 assists. When you watch Caldwell-Pope a lot more shows up than just the basic offensive stats, prior to his shoulder injury that took place in January he shot over 40-percent from three. His activity on defense showcases premier lock-down ability and allows Reggie Jackson to play the weaker offensive player. As Ash Vanclay of PistonPowered.com suggests, one thing that stands out is the consistent effort and hustle every night, being the only Piston to never take plays off.
— JJ🏀 (@ZjosephX) December 24, 2016
The shooting guard position in the NBA is essentially diluted, the league average for Player Efficiency Rating is 15, if you take out James Harden then only eight players actually posted a 16 PER or higher. A few of these are bench players with smaller samples so it points to how valuable Caldwell-Pope, who has been a starter for three straight seasons, really is. Any player that can guard the best perimeter player from the opposite team and shoot the ball efficiently will have high value.
Other reasons you could see teams coveting Caldwell-Pope is with a better surrounding cast, he could see a huge uptick in productivity. Caldwell-Pope has never played with an elite point guard and with the rapid decline of Jackson – who is shoot-first anyway – could get Caldwell-Pope more open looks. He has essentially been the only floor-spacer for Detroit as they have a front-court that consists of Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond, which doesn’t inject fear into defenses with their outside shooting. If a team with a solid defense signs Caldwell-Pope it could take a lot of pressure off him having to constantly be the table-setter defensively, creating more energy and opportunities to score.
The Nets are expected to pursue Otto Porter and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in free agency this offseason.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 26, 2017
With Bradley Beal earning a contract that shells out $25 million a year, a player who failed to stay healthy and show elite production, its reasonable to see Caldwell-Pope getting a contract that will confuse the average NBA fan. Don’t be surprised to see a team that is up-and-coming or already in contention offer anywhere between $17-22 million for his services, this would grant them a real building block for the future.