Caldwell-Pope explains the art of wing defense


As established NBA veterans, many of the players the Wizards acquired this offseason arrived with a reputation preceding them. For Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, part of that is perimeter defense, as he is widely viewed as the type of on-ball wing defender the Wizards desperately needed last year, especially after injuries took their toll on the depth chart.

Caldwell-Pope is now entering his ninth NBA season, so he's been around the block and he's seen a few things. This week, he explained in detail his approach to wing defense. It shed light on what he will bring to the Wizards' defensive efforts.

"First off, leave the referees alone. I feel like, from my experience, me, it's personnel; you’ve gotta watch a lot of film on who you guard, on who your matchup is gonna be. Know their weaknesses and try to force them into do as much of that as possible. You’re not going to make it do it [all the time] because they are great players as well," he said.

"I just try to contain and stay in front. If I can just stay in front of my guy, I can get a great contest. So, that’s my go-to and what I look for is just his jersey number. It’s in the middle of his chest, it’s not going to move, so if I’m watching that it helps me out a little bit. I’ve got little tricks, a lot of stuff that I use to make that happen. But I would say just know personnel, watching film, would be the best way to learn a player and get to know their tendencies."


Caldwell-Pope, 28, may not have any All-Defense selections on his resume, but the numbers suggest he's a plus-player on the defensive end. Last season, he had the 19th-best defensive real plus-minus in the NBA, per ESPN. He was seventh-best among guards.

Though it's just one stat, he ranked higher than any other player currently on the Wizards roster. Caldwell-Pope also started all 67 of the games he played last season for the Lakers, who ranked first in defensive rating. He was a key contributor the year before when they ranked third and won the NBA title.

No player can do it all by himself, but Caldwell-Pope figures to help the Wizards' defensive cause, and now we know the specifics of his approach on that end of the floor.