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Caldwell-Pope Climbing NBA Draft Boards
Posted By Alex Kennedy On April 19, 2013 @ 5:00 am In Main Page,NBA Draft | No Comments
Every year, at least one player who was somewhat overlooked during the college basketball season impresses NBA decision-makers and climbs draft boards.
This summer, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has the potential to be that player. Caldwell-Pope, a 6’6 shooting guard, played two seasons at Georgia and possesses all of the tools to have a long, productive NBA career.
The 20-year-old is being projected as a lottery pick and he could propel himself into the top 10 over the next several months if he performs well at the NBA’s pre-draft camp and individual workouts. In Chad Ford’s latest mock draft on ESPN.com, Caldwell-Pope is projected to go No. 10 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
It’s no surprise that his draft stock is on the rise. He’s a very smooth athlete who can score the ball at will. He has no problem creating separation and getting open, and his range stretches out to the NBA three-point line.
Last season, Caldwell-Pope averaged 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.0 steals in 33.9 minutes. He shot 43.3 percent from the field, 37.3 percent from three-point range and 79.9 percent from the free throw line.
Caldwell-Pope was able to put up these impressive numbers despite playing for a Bulldogs team that didn’t feature much talent around him. Defenses were focusing on the shooting guard every game, but he still managed to have impressive outings on more nights than not.
He was named the SEC Player of the Year, becoming the first Georgia player to win this award since Dominique Wilkins in 1981.
Put Caldwell-Pope around players as talented as him and he would likely be even more productive. The Bulldogs were basically a one-man show this season, as Caldwell-Pope led the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, minutes played, field goals, three-point field goals and free throws. The team’s second-leading scorer behind Caldwell-Pope’s 18.5 points was Nemanja Djurisic, who averaged just 7.9 points.
Caldwell-Pope is one of the top shooting guard prospects in this year’s draft class. Ben McLemore of Kansas will likely be selected in the top five, but the numbers show that there isn’t a large gap between McLemore and Caldwell-Pope’s production during this past season.
McLemore averaged 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal in 32.2 minutes. Caldwell-Pope’s efficiency rating (27.7) was also higher than McLemore’s (23.2), even though he was contributing 30.3 percent of his team’s total points to McLemore’s 21.2 percent.
While McLemore’s potential has been well-documented, Caldwell-Pope is actually the younger of the two players by several days despite the fact that he was a sophomore this past year. He’s also two inches taller, although McLemore does have the longer wingspan of the two prospects.
NBA talent evaluators have been raving about Caldwell-Pope. While he hasn’t gotten as much attention as he deserves due to Georgia’s struggles (the team went 15-17 last year), scouts and executives believe his game will translate well to the NBA.
“Kentavious is a rare combination of an above-average athlete and polished fundamental shooter,” one scout said. “He gets after you on both ends. Pure, athletic two-way shooting guards have become such a commodity in the NBA so I expect him to excel depending on where he gets slotted. The only weakness I see is his tendency to settle for harder shots, but, hey, the guy can make them. You can’t teach that.”
Caldwell-Pope is one of the most intriguing players in this draft class so don’t be surprised if he’s selected much higher than anyone expected on June 27.
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