"Either Defensive Player of the Year or first-team" - Former NBA champion outlines outrageous defensive expectations from himself

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Nuggets jersey
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Nuggets jersey

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wants to be Defensive Player of the Year. He is one of the most underappreciated perimeter defenders in the league and was one of the crucial pieces for the Denver Nuggets’ success in the postseason. This season, the two-time NBA champion has high hopes for himself.

After the Nuggets defeated the Golden State Warriors, Pope spoke about the defensive expectation he has from himself.

Defensively, Pope has set a goal for himself going into the season. He said that he either wanted to be a Defensive Player of the Year or make it to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

“I got one goal, man, either Defensive Player of the Year or first-team. I’m going to continue to push that envelope," Caldwell-Pope said.

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Pope had his own game data to back his high expectations. He was the primary defender on Curry and limited the Warriors superstar player to under 40% shooting. Curry shot only six of his 17 attempted field goals. His performance clearly demonstrated why Pope deserved to be on the All-Defensive Team.

This was not the first time that Pope had locked Curry. In 2015, when he was with the Detroit Pistons, Pope had limited Curry to four of 15 shooting as a primary defender.

Despite consistently being one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, Pope has never made it to All-NBA Defensive Teams. During the championship year with the Lakers, he was once again one of the most trusted defenders for the team.

KCP Defensive Player of the Year hope in not far-fetched

Last season, Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone decided to give their best defender in the game a Defensive Player of the Game Chain. The winner was decided by Malone and the coaching staff. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope won the chain almost every night for his defensive efforts.

“He could get the chain every night. We should actually name it the KCP DPOG and give it to everybody else,” said coach Michael Malone.

In their championship season, perhaps there was no defender on the roster who was more reliable than Pope. Moreover, Pope has primarily been a great pick in the postseason. He has been an excellent choice for the Nuggets when it comes to containing dribble penetration. Very few players can hold a driver from the opposite team like Pope can.

It is true that for a player like Pope who has never been on an All-NBA Defensive Team, winning DPOY would be a long shot. However, with the amount of work that Pope put in, it wouldn’t be surprising if he made it to the defense team.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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