Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a successful run with the Los Angeles Lakers, as he won a championship with them during the 2019-20 season. However, he was involved in the trade that sent Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles, but is very excited to be teaming up with Bradley Beal on the Washington Wizards.
“Me and Brad, he’s one of my close friends, my best friend,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’ve known each other since we were 15, so that relationship is already there. It’s going to be fun just to play with a friend and also just be living in D.C. where he’s at.”
The Wizards were one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season, but that is an area Caldwell-Pope feels he can help shore up while bringing his strong 3-point shooting.
“I see myself as an elite 3 and D player, I’m very underrated at that,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I don’t get a lot of buzz around that. But that’s how I built my career, from Detroit, being able to play defense, being able to guard the best players on the floor, and also being able to knock down a shot. I’ve perfected that throughout my whole career. Now, I feel like I have an opportunity to show a little bit more of my game.”
Caldwell-Pope shot 41 percent from three last season, as that should definitely help open up the floor for Beal to do even more damage, especially when you consider that Beal has a tendency to drive to the rim or pull up for mid-range jumpers.
The Wizards also brought in Caldwell-Pope’s former Laker teammates Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma in the deal, and they also have a cast of great wing players in Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, and Deni Avdjia.
Harrell has established himself as one of the best scorers off the bench, which earned him Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2020. But if you ask him, he still has more to prove by trying to accomplish more.
“Everything, man,” Harrell said during his introductory press conference. “I haven’t been an All-Star in this league since I’ve been here. So, I feel like I have a lot of untapped talents. I haven’t been to an NBA Finals, I haven’t won a championship. There’s a lot of things I haven’t done as a player, so there’s a lot of untapped [potential] that I feel like I can reach.”
Washington also has Thomas Bryant waiting to return from injury, as Bryant will provide them another big who can shoot the 3-pointer and get offense inside the paint.
Despite the loss of Westbrook, the Wizards could actually be a much better team next season, as they’re bringing in a ton of guys with a chip on their shoulders and guys who can also complement Beal very well on both ends of the floor.
Kuzma still has a lot to prove in the league himself, so expect him to make the most of this opportunity while fighting for minutes with Hachimura, Bertans, and Avdjia.