NBA Draft: Sleepers On the Rise?

Mar 14, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) is defended by LSU Tigers guard Malik Morgan (24) during the second round of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

While a lot of local press are trying hard to squash the possibility of Shabazz Muhammad going at #9 to the Wolves I’m getting a little concerned over the love Kentavious Calwell-Pope is receiving from plugged-in draftnicks like the guys at Draft Express.

KCP has the advanced stats to make the geeks gush and C.J. McCollum has the interview chops of a politician. Sleepers could be gaining steam.

Every year there’s a player who makes considerable headway in endearing themselves to NBA decision-makers late in the draft process, and this season that player seems to be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who backs up his late rise by joining Oladipo and McLemore among the more efficient scoring guards in this class, with a fourth ranked 1.035 PPP overall.

Unlike the two players ranked above him, Caldwell-Pope posted fairly high usage numbers, as his 17.6 possessions per-game ranks fifth in this group (third among high-major conference SGs), and is a reflection of just how heavily Georgia relied on his ability to put the ball in the basket last season.

His play-type usage doesn’t really stand out from the crowd, as he did a little bit of everything last season, but his 5.1 combined pick and roll and isolation possessions per-game does set him apart from McLemore and Oladipo, as he used more than twice as many possessions creating his own shot in the half court than any guard projected to be selected in the first round.

Caldwell-Pope’s biggest weapon when he looked to score was his pull-up jump shot. With nearly three-quarters of his shot attempts coming from the perimeter in the half court, roughly half of which were off the bounce, he scored a second ranked 1.118 points per-shot as a pull-up jump shooter, an impressive mark relative to his average 1.066 points per-shot in catch and shoot situations.

If Caldwell-Pope has a weakness on paper, it is his average finishing ability relative to his peer group. A 55.6% shooter in transition and 53.7% shooter at the rim in half court situations, he hovers right around the mean in both categories. Turning the ball over on a sample second ranked 10.6% of his possessions, Caldwell-Pope’s low turnover rate certainly helped compensate for his issues around the rim last season.

Topics: Draft Express, Kentavious Caldwell-pope, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA Draft

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