The Denver Nuggets are fresh off of a win over the Golden State Warriors, bringing their season record to 8-1, which is the best in the entire league. A big reason for the Nuggets’ success this year is obviously Nikola Jokic’s greatness, however, the other biggest reason is the Nuggets’ stifling defense, led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aaron Gordon.
While Gordon is averaging career highs in steals per game (1.4) and blocks per game (1.1) through nine games this season, he is not even the best defender on the Nuggets. That award belongs to Caldwell-Pope, who is poised to make his first All-Defensive team in his career this season.
Caldwell-Pope currently holds the longest active streak in the NBA for consecutive regular-season games with a steal (17 games in a row). Additionally, KCP is third in the entire NBA in total steals with 21. This mark trails only Marcus Smart and Paul George, both of whom are former All-Defensive team members. Smart is a three-time member and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2021-2022. Meanwhile, Paul George is a four-time All-Defensive team member.
Why Caldwell-Pope should make first team All-Defensive.
Before the season began, Caldwell-Pope mentioned that he felt he had been snubbed in the past for All-Defensive team honors, and one of his goals this year was to get into that conversation… He has certainly done that. Just nine games into the season and the two-time champion has already been the primary key defender on many different stars and high-level scorers causing those players to put up absolute stinkers:
Desmond Bane: 15 points on 4/17 shooting (1/10 from three)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 7 points on 2/16 shooting (0/4 from three and 2/12 from two)
Zach LaVine: 12 points on 4/12 shooting (1/5 from three)
Steph Curry: 23 points on 6/17 shooting (6/13 from three and 0/4 from two)
If Caldwell-Pope can continue to anchor the perimeter defense of the Nuggets and shut down NBA stars, he could be the first Nugget to make an All-Defensive team since Marcus Camby in 2008. Additionally, if KCP gets consistent help from Gordon, as well as youngsters, Christian Braun and Peyton Watson, not only will the Nuggets get at least one All-Defensive player this season, but they could be on their way to another NBA championship.