Whether it be MLive, Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, or us here at DBB, Pistons watchers recognize Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's defensive abilities. If you don't believe us, read KCP's own thoughts on perimeter defense. So when the NBA All-Defensive team is named later this month, KCP's name should be on that list.
The last time the Pistons had a player on the All-Defensive team was 2007-08, when Tayshaun Prince was selected to the All-Defensive Second Team, which is a drought longer than the Pistons playoff drought (which just ended, if you hadn't heard). If you need to see with your own eyes what he's done this year on the defensive end, watch this wonderful hype video presented by BadBoysRemix.
How important is it to have an All-Defensive player on your team? Last year, the Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green was selected to the All-Defensive first team, and they won the NBA championship. The year before that, the San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard was selected to the All-Defensive second team, and they won the championship. Since the 1999-00 season, only one team has won the Championship without at least one All-Defensive player -- the 2005-06 Miami Heat.
No, I am not saying the Pistons are going to win a championship this year. I am simply saying that in order to be a contender, you have to have very good defensive players on your team, and that KCP is a very good defensive player. However, as good as he is on defense, you will not find him in the top 20 of any defensive category. As a matter of fact, the only categories you'll find KCP in the top 20 of are minutes played and minutes per game.
However, there could be a very good reason for that. (Note: KCP is not responsible for all of these stats, but they are a good representation of his defensive abilities.) In the Pistons first game against the Golden State Warriors, KCP defended Stephen Curry on 11 shots and Curry made three. He also guarded Klay Thompson on six shots, and Klay made three. Combined that is 6-for-17, or 35.3-percent. Per game, they average 18.3-for-37.6 for 48.7-percent. In the next matchup with them, Curry went 9-for-17 and Klay went 1-for-3 when guarded by KCP. That means the splash brothers were a combined 16-for-37, or 43.2-percent, when guarded by KCP.
That's indicative of the work KCP has put in all year. According to the NBA's defensive stats, opponents shoot 1.7 percent worse than their average when being defended by KCP (and that number climbs to 2.6 percent worse than their average on three-point attempts).
When you are consistently defending the other team's best players (Curry, Thompson, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, etc.) and you are able to hold them under their season averages, which are some of the best in the league, it makes your numbers look average. For players who played 60 or more games and averaged 30 or more minutes, Stephen Curry has the second best opponent field-goal percentage. Kyle Korver is third.
But Steph Curry and Kyle Korver are not guarding the opponent's best offensive players. KCP is.
So what say you unbiased Detroit Pistons fans? Should Kentavious Caldwell-Pope be on the NBA All-Defensive team?