KCP Season Preview
Hello beautiful people, this is the 4th player preview I've done, working my way through. Up next will be Reggie Jackson, and then onto the bench.
Where he stands now:
KCP is entering the last year of his rookie contract, and according the Pistons, getting an extension done before the October 25th deadline is a priority, so expect to hear quite a bit on that in the coming days. (And supposedly they are trying to do the same with Reggie Bullock FWIW) KCP enters training camp in a similar situation to Marcus Morris, where he is absolutely the starter and it would take something drastic, whether in his own play or in the play of Stanley Johnson, for him to not be the starter opening night. KCP is 23 and will turn 24 this season.
What to generally expect from him this year:
It is a tale of 2 sides of the court for KCP, on defense more of the same should be expected where KCP will be asked to take the most difficult defensive assignments that are not big wing scorers and generally lock them down, most importantly this includes the various really good point guards in the NBA. His hustle and skill on the perimeter will pair with Andre's massive interior prescence to form the cornerstones of the Pistons defense. Offensively there are many more question marks, but it should be assumed that he will still be shooting plenty of 3s (whether he hits very many of them or not) and be a terror in transition. Fortunately, with Tobias Harris being fully implemented to the offense, Stanley Johnson (hopefully) taking a step forwards, and the bench having more capable playmakers, KCP's offensive role will be lessened which should hopefully boost his efficiency and allow him to put more focus on just 3 and D.
The elephant in the room for KCP is his shooting, it is talked about a bit more than it probably should be, but it is a big deal. KCP was billed as a good shooter coming out of college, but through 3 NBA seasons has shot 32%, 34%, and 31% from 3. Just as a reminder, league average is 35%. If he can find his shot and at least get to 34% from 3 he will cement himself as a rock solid complementary offensive player, which paired with his defense makes him a super valuable guy. If he doesn't manage to dig out of the lower 30s it will continue to be a drag on him as a player.
There are plenty of issues other than his shooting though, the reality is that last year KCP was overall a mediocre offensive player. And I mean mediocre in the true sense of the word, in that he was certainly not awful at anything, but he also was not much good at anything either. He is not as good a finisher as his initial numbers suggest due to him getting so many gimmes in the fast break (which I add as a big part of his stellar defensive play since it is his defense that leads to the fast break points) and is just not much good at creating his own shot or shots for others. He can do it in a pinch, the Pistons used him as a weapon by putting him in the pick and roll to get him clean pull up jumpers, he did not hit enough of them to be all that effective, but he was pretty steady at it.
Essentially, KCP needs to take some part of his offensive game and take it from mediocre to actually being good, whether that is his spot up shooting, his pull up jumpers, becoming a good driver, improving his passing, something. In his current form from last year, he did nothing to help an offense, (although once again, did not hurt it much) and he needs to find something that can worry opposing defenses.
This is the fun part with KCP lol. He was a freaking terror on the defensive end of the floor last year, his relentless pursuit of opposing point guards was both a joy to watch and hugely important to the team. Watching him slide step for step with a ball handler and just constantly staying in front of them was one of the little things that made the Pistons fun to watch last year. His ability to take any turnover and turn it into easy transition points was a boon for him as well, putting his speed to great use as he usually would fly past most opponents.
All that said, there are still some areas for improvement for KCP. The main hole in his defensive game was the trouble he would have against bigger dudes, even bigger shooting guards like DeMar DeRozan were mostly handled by Morris last year. Since KCP is so effective on opposing point guards it is ok, but it would be nice if him switching onto a point guard was always because he was so good at guarding them, instead of him struggling to guard a wing. In theory, if he was able to add some strength and girth to himself over the summer he should be able to match up better with those types, even though he will likely never stand a chance against true big wings (like LeBron) it is totally fair to expect him to be able to handle DeRozan and Jimmy Butler this season.
The other issue is smaller, but still something to watch for, is his navigating of screens. Perhaps it is because he flies around at such a high speed that he was a wee bit too fast for his mind at time, but he would occasionally misplay screens sent his way. The main way this would manifest itself was when guarding old school shooting guards like JJ Reddick or Kyle Korver. KCP was often still pretty effective against them, but he occasionally would give up open looks that he didn't need to. Once again, not a big problem, but when you are as good as KCP at defense, you have to pick hairs a bit.
Overall KCP could make no improvements and he is already a wonderful defensive player, the question at this point is whether or not he can make a couple of slight refinements to his game to go from “Awesome perimeter defender” to “One of the top defensive players in basketball” and that has to be the hope.
Absolutely no worries here. KCP is an incredibly hard worker off the court, and plays his tail off on the court. As far as I know there have never been any issues between him and other teammates, in fact he was supposedly the one guy who actually got along with Josh Smith on the team. The only potential issue would come with the possibility of him not getting an extension done, which occasionally will cause a small amount of drama in the season. But that happens sometimes and is rarely a real issue.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
KCP is sniping 3s like no ones business
KCP is shutting down bigger 2 guards with regularity, not just point guards.
He re-signs for anything under 16 per year.
Every time he gets a steal and takes off towards the other hoop.
Fun for the hills if:
KCP is the primary giver of bricks for Donald Trump's wall.
His is losing lots of minutes to Stanley Johnson, and not because Stanley is playing so well.
Contract talks fall apart in an ugly way causing internal issues.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
KCP manages to shoot 35% from 3 this year.
He doesn't bulk up enough to guard bigger dudes, but does iron out his issues with screens.
KCP re-signs for about 17 million per year.
He only plays about 31 minutes per game this season.
What do you think? What will he shoot from 3? Let me know! We all get smarter!