NUGGETS

KCP gets national praise for reliably steady play with Nuggets

Dec 1, 2023, 12:35 PM

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be the most unsung player in Denver Nuggets history.

The fifth member of the best starting five in basketball gets the fewest shots of the bunch and is tasked with defending some of the greatest offensive players in league history. KCP’s two seasons in Denver have seen him mesh seamlessly into an off-ball shooting role that allows Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray to do their thing. All the while KCP is going to make a legit run at NBA’s end-of-season defensive honors in 2023.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe pointed out KCP’s contributions in his weekly column on Friday. He called the first Calvin Booth deal, which acquired Caldwell-Pope, “one of the smartest role-player trades in recent NBA history.”

Before the 2022-23 season Booth swung a rather large deal in flipping longtime Nuggets Monte Morris and Will Barton for KCP. The deal was to finally address Denver’s forever perimeter defense woes. At the same time, it brought a good shooter and champion to the Nuggets.

In 95 games with Denver, KCP has shot 42% from deep. Only nine players across the entire league have shot 40% or better in the past two seasons. Denver’s shooting guard is shooting at about the same clip and rate from beyond the arc as Kevin Durant over the same stretch. As a Nugget, KCP has scored 11 points a night and added about 2.5 rebounds and assists as well.

Both Michael Malone and Jokic have talked in the past about how the experience KCP had in winning in L.A. brought an extra tool to the Nuggets shed.

“The basketball gods themselves would struggle to build a more balanced, complementary lineup. That thing is damn near perfect. Wobbly bench minutes aside, Denver remains the clear favorite in the West,” Lowe wrote.

Lowe isn’t the only one this week shifting some focus away from the two-time MVP and onto some of his top-performing peers in the lineup:

YouTube video

That whole starting five may be back together for the first time on Friday since the first week of November. Murray missed nearly the entire month with a hamstring injury and when the guard came back Aaron Gordon started dealing with a heel issue. Both players are on the injury report for Denver’s game in the desert against the Devin Booker-less Suns.

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KCP gets national praise for reliably steady play with Nuggets