By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons surprised many with their first-round pick of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and that is exactly what Dumars wanted.
The Detroit president of basketball operations said he tried to play the team’s hand close to the vest and refrain from tipping others off to what the organization wanted to do.
“We really never tried to come out and say exactly what position,” Dumars said. “What I tried to always say was that we were going to look at the perimeter, at the ones, twos and threes, and so we wanted to make sure that we kept a wide-open profile of the kind of guy that we were going to try and take. We just didn’t want to get specific about a position.”
When Dumars first saw Caldwell, at a game in Brooklyn last November, his impression was that of an athletic young wing player, but he was not overwhelmingly convinced.
As he tracked Caldwell through the season, however, Dumars got more serious about the Georgia guard.
“Once he got to SEC play, he was off the charts, so we started locking in on him and saying, ‘Okay, just the type of athlete that we don’t have on our team,’” Dumars said. “He became a target for us late in the college season.”
The selection of Caldwell befuddled many simply because the Pistons were expected to take a point guard. The fact that both Michigan’s Trey Burke and Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum were both still available when Detroit chose Caldwell made the decision even more baffling to some.
To Dumars, though, the need for more athletic perimeter players was more pressing the need for a true point guard. Though the Pistons have Brandon Knight, the comment on him is generally that he can be a point guard or a shooting guard.
Dumars said that not drafting a true point guard was not so much a comment on Knight’s ability in that spot as it was a comment on the desperate need for more length and athleticism.
“More so than an endorsement, it’s really [that] we needed to … start getting wing athletes with the Pistons,” Dumars said. “The hardest teams for us to match up against the past couple years – athletic teams that get out and play … We struggled with those teams, and it was time to address that.”
Even after adding Caldwell and former Louisville guard Peyton Siva, Dumars said there could be more changes coming on the perimeter.
“We’re going to continue to try to address the wing positions, the one, two and three,” Dumars said. “We will not be off-limits on any of those positions. In free agency and trade, if we can upgrade in those positions, we will. We definitely will.”
“We’re not done,” Dumars added. “I’ll just say that – we’re not done. Last night was a small step in what we’re trying to do.”