Just a few seasons ago, it was a bit of hard to fathom Kentavious Caldwell-Pope being a key player on a championship team.
His NBA profession got off to a solid start, he was drafted within the lottery of the 2013 draft with the No. 8 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons and he became certainly one of the highest rising 3&D players within the league. He seemed in line to receive a sizeable contract as he approached free agency within the 2017 offseason, but that never materialized. Reports indicated that he was in search of a bigger deal than what the Pistons offered him.
When the Pistons ended up renouncing his rights and making him an unrestricted free agent, it was already late in free agency that almost all would-be suitors not had the cap space available to provide him the contract he was on the lookout for. He ended up signing a one-year cope with the Los Angeles Lakers with the hopes of probably cashing in the next off-season.
That first yr in LA didn’t go exactly as planned, nevertheless. Caldwell-Pope was limited to Lakers home games only as a result of a probation violation stemming from a summer DUI arrest. He was unable to go away the state of California. He ended up staying in Los Angeles on one other one-year deal.
During his stint in LA, Caldwell-Pope’s play was marred with inconsistency to the purpose that he began to receive public backlash from Lakers fans. He was booed at home games and bullied on social media. Former teammate Dwight Howard even needed to defend him on Instgram after fans called for Caldwell-Pope to be traded. To be fair to him though, the Lakers were an entire mess of a corporation before the arrival of LeBron James.
With a balanced roster and real leadership, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope began to appear to be his old Detroit self. He flourished alongside James and Anthony Davis. He was the Lakers third-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game because the team won the 2020 championship. He shot 37.8 percent from three-point range and his defense was invaluable. The Lakers are still a large number though and so they inexplicably traded him within the 2021 off-season.
After a yr with the Washington Wizards, Caldwell-Pope now finds himself as a member of the Denver Nuggets and once more tasked with being a key contributor on a team that has championship aspirations.
Caldwell-Pope arrived in Denver as a part of a trade alongside Ish Smith in exchange for Will Barton and Monte Morris. He immediately became a part of the starting lineup and he’s been certainly one of the Nuggets most consistent players. Morris and Barton were productive players for Denver but with Caldwell-Pope the Nuggets haven’t seen any sort of a drop-off. In reality, the Nuggets were so enamored with the acquisition that they signed him to an extension even before the season began.
He’s currently the Nuggets best three-point shooter at 53.3 percent which is the most effective mark within the NBA this season. He’s taking around 4.6 attempts per game which in keeping with his profession average of 4.7. With Caldwell-Pope within the lineup, the Nuggets are the most effective three-point shooting team within the NBA this season at 41.9 percent.
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On the season, Caldwell-Pope is averaging 11.3 points per game. That’s sixth on the team behind Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, Bones Hyland and Aaron Gordon. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective though. He’s solid playing an off-ball role and with the ability to thrive off the Nuggets primary creators.
Considered one of his specialties is pulling down the corner three-point shot and he’s doing that at an efficiency of 55 percent as per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.
It’s not only the offense that he brings to the court, it’s his defense as well. He’s second on the Nuggets in steals at 1.4. He’s quietly been certainly one of the league’s top off ball defenders together with his ability to maneuver and chase players through screens. He’s solid on ball as well and he’s often tasked with guarding the opponent’s best wing scorer. The Nuggets haven’t been much of a top defensive team in recent times and Caldwell-Pope’s addition strengthens them in that regard.
Principally, the Nuggets are asking Caldwell-Pope to be a nothing greater than a 3&D player and he’s excelling in that role. It’s the role he’s played his whole profession and the role that can bring the Nuggets closer to an NBA championship.