Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks is a firm believer that rookies should be seen, not heard and until further notice, it's unlikely rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be seen in the starting five.
Before the Pistons' 91-67 exhibition win over Israeli team Maccabi Haifi at The Palace Tuesday, Cheeks all but ruled out the eighth pick in this past June's draft from being the team's starting shooting guard.
The choice will be between 37-year old Chauncey Billups and 27-year old Rodney Stuckey.
Billups started alongside Brandon Jennings Tuesday night. Jennings scored 15 points and added three assists in 23 minutes. Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 17 points and nine rebounds, scoring in the same ways he did in his rookie year ó playing above the rim against an undersized team that doesn't possess nearly the athleticism needed to compete with him.
Josh Smith and Greg Monroe combined for 25 points and 12 rebounds, as Drummond was the first big man subbed out so Smith and Monroe could slide to power forward and center, respectively.
Caldwell-Pope played with a second unit that included Kyle Singler, Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva and at times, Drummond.
"I just don't think he probably will be starting at this point," Cheeks said before giving himself some wiggle room. "I reserve the right to change my mind but as of this point, no."
Cheeks said itís less about what Caldwell-Pope hasn't done and more about feeling comfortable with an experienced player in the starting unit.
"For sure. They get first crack. I'm a veterans' coach," Cheeks said. "Guys who've been around, they get first crack at most things but they have to get the job done."
Caldwell-Pope, who has been impressing teammates with his shooting and defensive activity, missed his first five shots before getting an open-court dunk in the third quarter.
"It would be a disservice to say no because he's played as well as anybody," Cheeks said. "I'll play it by ear."
"They have to do above and beyond to make that mark. Rookies have a lot on their plate. Learning the league, doing certain things for certain guys."
Billups will certainly ease himself into actual game shape, so what it could come down to for Cheeks is Billups' shooting, know-how and calm or Stuckey's size and ability to get to the basket.
"It's the player himself and how he fits with that group," Cheeks said. "A player can be more talented and still not start. We have quite a few games and practices left before we make that decision."
Keeping it simple
Cheeks has only put in basic offensive sets so far and it showed for the most part Tuesday. The Pistons shot just 40 percent in their first action against outside competition.
Villanueva and Singler scored 11 each off the bench.
"I think our defense is ahead of our offense," Cheeks said. "We've really made a concerted effort (on defense)."
The Pistons held Haifa to 40 points through three quarters, doubling up on them before letting up in the fourth.
They forced 14 Haifa turnovers in the first quarter, as their opponent was a tired team that played in Phoenix Monday night and landed in Detroit at dawn Tuesday.
"It's good to play against somebody, see what we've been working on so far," Smith said. "We'll keep playing within the offense and taking the right shots."
Smith made three of four 3-pointers. His propensity to take perimeter shots was a point of convention during his time in Atlanta.
"We have small conversations about it but I'm not gonna limit someone's game," Cheeks said. "Wide open standstill shots, you get in trouble with someone in your face but rhythm shots, I'm very comfortable with that."