Draft Projection: No. 9: Minnesota Timberwolves
Notes: Insider Only
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: June 26 Update: Caldwell-Pope played under the radar all year at Georgia, but a second look after the season found one of the most gifted shooters and scorers in the draft. He plays with a high basketball IQ and has terrific defensive potential. While he doesn't have the upside of either McLemore or Oladipo, he's actually a nice hybrid of both players.
Quick fact: Caldwell-Pope averaged 1.12 points per play on jump shots off the dribble, the fourth-highest rate in the nation (min. 100 plays).
June 25 Update: There seem to be three constants in our mock drafts: Noel at No. 1, Porter at No. 3 and Caldwell-Pope at No. 9. He's been up here for the past three mocks and makes the cut here as well. While the Wolves have interest in other players (Cody Zeller has his fans in Minnesota), Caldwell-Pope has been a favorite of team president Flip Saunders. The only way this pick probably doesn't happen? If Minnesota finds a way to package the No. 9, No. 26 and maybe Derrick Williams to move up; then they'll grab Victor Oladipo.
June 24 Update: Caldwell-Pope is all over the place on our Secret NBA Draft Big Board. One team rates him as highly as 8 while others rate him as a 4 or 5. His team's poor performance last season probably has something to do with it -- while he put up strong stats, he often did it in a losing cause. The advanced metrics guys, however, love him. His range on draft night is 9 to 15.
June 18 Update: It sounds as if the Timberwolves have narrowed things down to Caldwell-Pope and Shabazz Muhammad. Although Muhammad is more of a natural scorer, it's hard to believe the Wolves will pass on Caldwell-Pope's shooting abilities. The team really needs shooters and Caldwell-Pope has a chance to be one of the two or three best shooters in the draft.
June 10 Update: Caldwell-Pope continues to be one of the hotter names in the draft. He's already worked out for the Bulls, Wolves and Blazers, and has the Celtics and Bucks on his schedule this week. I'm hearing that the Wolves, especially, are enamored with Caldwell-Pope, and he's the sleeper at No. 9. The Wolves desperately need shooting in their backcourt, and I heard his workout in Minnesota was terrific.
May 28 Update: Caldwell-Pope didn't particularly shoot it well in workouts, but the more I speak with GMs and scouts, the more likely it seems that he's going somewhere in the mid-to-late lottery. Not only are teams attracted to his shooting ability and size but many feel as if he has a great grasp for the game and could be special someday. I could see him going to a team such as the Pistons, Wolves, Blazers or Sixers.
May 15 Update: Caldwell-Pope is flying up draft boards, and the combine could easily become his coming-out party. He's a terrific shooter and an explosive athlete -- those two traits typically look great together in the combine setting. The stat guys already love him. If he shows well at the combine, he could secure his place as a lottery pick in this year's draft.
May 8 Update (Projected No. 10, Trail Blazers): Right now, Caldwell-Pope is one of the fastest risers on NBA draft boards. He is a terrific shooter and a very good athlete. While the Blazers already have Wesley Matthews, adding Caldwell-Pope to the mix gives Portland great depth in the backcourt.
May 2 Update: Gary Harris did Caldwell-Pope a huge favor when he decided to return to school for his sophomore season. For teams looking for an athletic 2 guard who can shoot the ball, Caldwell-Pope is now the guy after McLemore. A team like the Timberwolves, Blazers or Thunder could nab him in the lottery.
Apr 15 Update: Caldwell-Pope has declared for the 2013 NBA Draft. Caldwell-Pope has been moving up the draft boards since the season ended, which is when scouts go back and relook at tape. They've seen a lot to like in the Georgia sophomore. Caldwell-Pope played on a team bereft of talent, but he still managed to score 18.5 points per game and shoot 37 percent from 3. He's a very good athlete, an excellent rebounder for a guard and isn't afraid to take over the game in the final moments. He could go anywhere from late lottery to mid-first round.
Apr 2 Update: Caldwell-Pope is the highest riser on this list, and he didn't even play a game last week. He makes the jump in part because of Pelton's statistical work that gave him a projected WARP that would put him seventh overall in the draft. That assessment, as it turns out, agrees with what a number of GMs that use advanced metrics are saying about him. While many scouts see him as a second-rounder, there are enough front offices that factor in these rankings to move him up the list. When you factor in his age, size, athleticism and shooting ability, Caldwell-Pope, while far from perfect, does seem to pass the eye test as well.
Mar 15 Update: Caldwell-Pope didn't go down without a fight. He scored 32 points in a tight loss to LSU on Thursday. He hit six 3s and got to the line 12 times. While he remains somewhat streaky as a shooter, a lot of NBA teams are high on him. He sits just outside our top 30 at the moment, but he could easily play himself into a mid- or late-first-round pick with strong workouts if he declares.
Feb 27 Update: Caldwell-Pope is the newest addition to our Big Board. The Georgia wing has a reputation as a lights-out shooter. He's been more streaky than scouts would like, but when he gets it going, he's very tough to defend. Last Saturday's game against South Carolina is a case in point. After going scoreless in the first half, he poured in 18 in the second, including a big 3 with 10 seconds left in the game to force overtime. Factor in his excellent athletic abilities and he's a name to watch over the coming months.
Oct 11 Update: Pegged as a deadly shooter coming out of high school, Caldwell-Pope was anything but that as a freshman. He shot under 40 percent from the field and just 30 percent from behind the arc in his first season at Georgia and he averaged nearly seven 3-point attempts per game.
He's going to have to significantly improve as a shooter next season, because he doesn't have much else to his game right now. He's a good athlete and has decent size and length, but his handle is shaky and he's still figuring out how to create his own shot off the dribble.
Nevertheless, scouts have high hopes for him. They are always looking for athletic shooters and if Caldwell-Pope finds his range this season, he'll shoot up this list pretty quickly.
Apr 22 Update: A number of NBA scouts have been quietly buzzing about Caldwell-Pope. The draft has been a bit devoid of quality shooting guards of late and Caldwell-Pope can really shoot the lights out. If he develops the other areas of his game he's a potential lottery pick down the road.