Georgia Bulldogs Sophomore Shooting Guard #1
6'5" 190 Pounds 20 Years Old From: Greenville, GA
Overview: Caldwell-Pope is a very intriguing shooting guard prospect who unfortunately will not get a chance to improve his draft stock with an NCAA tournament appearance. He was recently named SEC Player of the Year, but despite the accolade, playing for a bad Georgia team limits his national exposure. He is a very good athlete with good size who has taken his lumps at Georgia because opposing defenses can key in extremely hard on him without worrying about his teammates; there was no other double digit scorer at Georgia this season.
Offensively, Caldwell-Pope has some very good qualities that will instantly translate to the NBA. He has a very good jumpshot with very good range on it. In addition to his range, his jumper has a very quick, high release point which allows him to get his jumper off against very athletic defenders. He does his best work off the ball; he's very good at coming off of screens and using different speeds to get away from his defender. He has very good catch and shoot capabilities. This season, he improved his assist figures by about half an assist per game, and he has worked to become a better passer and team player. Despite his great jumpshot and range, he needs to continue to work on his consistency; he is still a streaky jumpshooter. Another facet of his game that he's improved upon is his slashing. With his athleticism and his explosiveness, he can finish well around the rim. He's more than doubled his free throw attempts per game, increasing from 2.5 to 5.3 attempts per game and his free throw percentage has increased from 65% to 80%, demonstrating his ability to improve. He's also improved his ability to make pull-up jumpshots.
While he doesn't have great ball handling skills, he can still create a decent shot for himself off of the dribble. While he's gotten better, his slashing still needs more improvement as he often settles for tougher pull-up, contested jumpers when he can get to the rim. Although, he typically does draw double teams when he catches, making it tougher to get to the hoop. He has had trouble with his shot selection but part of that is likely due to the lack of offensive help around him. Lastly, he can complete himself as an offensive player if he can hit his midrange jumpers more consistently; if defenses scheme for his three point shooting and slashing capabilities, he can become great if he beats his man off the dribble, then can consistently hit a midrange shot instead of driving into tall help defenders.
Defensively, he has tons of potential given his physical gifts. While he's a bit thin now, he should be able to add about 10 pounds of muscle which can help him hold his spot and not get backed down. The added bulk will also help him fight through screens on the defensive end of the court. At this point, he is a much better on ball defender than he is off the ball. When he's off the ball, he has a tendency to lose his man and can get beaten backdoor every once in a while. He's very engaged when matched up against a man with the ball and has lockdown capabilities. He does a good job hitting the boards as well once the offense takes a shot; he finds a man and his athleticism helps him pull down boards. Even as a shooting guard, he outrebounded every one of his teammates by at least 2 boards per game. If his offensive improvements from his first to his second year are any indication, he has the ability to improve his defense as well.
Caldwell-Pope's draft stock can only really improve at this point through workouts since his team isn't playing in any postseason tournaments. He is a very talented player who needs to work on his consistency as well as his decision-making. That said, since he's on a poor team, some of these issues can be expected and may go away when he isn't the focal point of every defenses strategy. He improved a ton from his freshman year to his sophomore year and has played himself into a mid to late first round pick despite his deficiencies if he were to come out this year.
· He is a very good athlete and this allows him to get open against his defenders. He comes off screens well and knows how to set up his defender by moving at one speed and then truly get open by switching speeds while he cuts
· He has shown that he is willing to improve from a season to season basis which is extremely promising. He very well may be able to fix his deficiencies and become great at the next level.
· He has a very good jumpshot with great mechanics and a good release.
· He rebounds exceptionally well for his position and uses his athleticism as well as superior positioning to grab boards.
· He is a very good, potentially lockdown, on ball defender.
Areas to Improve
· His shot selection and consistency need to improve for him to be a consistent threat at the NBA level.
· He needs to develop a go to dribbling move or two so that he can do a better job scoring when isolated with his man.
· He still needs to show greater commitment to getting to the rim, given his physical gifts. He too often settles for contested pull-up jumpers.
· Caldwell-Pope should bulk up a bit to improve his ability to finish through contact as well as his ability to fight through screens on the defensive end.
· His off ball defense leaves something to be desired; he can lose focus and lose his man too often and needs to avoid doing so in order to become a complete defender.