DETROIT — The fireworks started with the first pick when the Cleveland Cavaliers basically took a match to all mock drafts when they used the No. 1 pick on UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett.
The next stunner came at No. 4 when the Bobcats took Indiana power forward Cody Zeller, who was barely projected to go in the top 10.
Welcome to the 2013 NBA draft, where even the most astute analyst came off as clueless.
And the Detroit Pistons provided their own surprise Thursday night when they bypassed three available point guards — including Michigan point guard Trey Burke — and selected Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
There will be some fan backlash since many locals were hoping they would pick Burke, who led the Wolverines to the 2013 NCAA title game.
But the Pistons need help at many spots and Caldwell-Pope provides outside shooting and athleticism on the wing.
He averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game during a sophomore season where he was named the SEC’s player of the year.
“Here’s a guy with deep range, he’s a knockdown shooter and a shooting guard - something that the Pistons need,” ESPN’s Jalen Rose said after the pick. “They haven’t really been able to replace that since Richard Hamilton left. A player that can shoot from multiple spots on the floor and can even come off screens and play off the basketball. This pick makes sense. And plus they like his size at 6-6.”
ESPN’s Jay Bilas added: “Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a specialist. He is a shooter. And he’s a jump shooter — 75 percent of his shots are jump shots. And he knocks down a very good percentage of them. Forty percent of his pull-up jumpers he knocks down — that’s 1.2 points per possession. For a jump shooter that’s very efficient. So he’s got size, he’s got length to get that shot off and he’s got a quick trigger. He gets it off quickly with a nice stroke. . He’s not a big-time athlete but he’s got really good speed. He had the fastest three-quarter sprint time at the NBA draft combine among wings. North-south, he can really run. He’s certainly not a bad athlete, he’s just not a spectacular one. . I think he’s got the chance to be a decent defender. He’s been well coached by Mark Fox at Georgia. I think this young man has a chance to really stretch the defense with his shooting ability.”
ESPN’s Shane Battier asked Caldwell-Pope in his first interview what the Pistons would be getting out of him. He said: “A hard-working kid. I’m humble. I play both sides of the ball. I’m a great scorer and a defender. I’m looking to come in and help any way I can.”
The Pistons hope Caldwell-Pope will continue their run of solid picks.
Greg Monroe, the 2010 first-round pick who fell to them at No. 7, has established himself as a 16-point, 10-rebound guy after three seasons and the Pistons are eager to see him now that they can play him full-time at power forward at the tender young age of 23.
Brandon Knight, the 2011 first rounder, was projected to go top five, but fell to the Pistons at No. 8.
There are still questions about whether Knight is a point guard or shooting guard, but he is considered part of the team’s budding young core. The pick would appear to be an endorsement of Knight as part of the point guard picture.
And finally Andre Drummond, last year’s first rounder at No. 9, is considered a possible franchise center and he won’t turn 20 until August.