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Cleveland Cavaliers-Detroit Pistons Playoff Preview: Position-by-Position Breakdown

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons

2. Shooting Guard: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope vs. J.R. Smith

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope vs. J.R. Smith

As much as this pains me personally to state, J.R. Smith just isn’t the player he used to be. His per-36 minute stats for points and assists have reached career lows, and his rebounding is the worst mark since his rookie campaign back in 2004-05. His player efficiency rating has also dropped to 12.4, which is also the lowest mark since that rookie season. Statistics usually begin to dip around age 30, and Smith is exactly 30, meaning we’ve most likely already seen the best of him.

On the other side, the Pistons have one of the premier up-and-coming shooting guards in the NBA. Caldwell-Pope has improved each of his three seasons in the NBA and has even garnered some All-Defensive team consideration. This season, he’s posted numbers of 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists. And while he hasn’t shot well from deep all season, just 30.9-percent, he’s been heating up in April, shooting 42.3-percent in six games.

Caldwell-Pope most likely views this series as an opportunity for a coming-out party. And while J.R. clearly has more playoff experience, he hasn’t always shown the maturity needed on the court to win playoff games.

Advantage: Detroit Pistons

Next: Small Forward

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