Kentavious Caldwell-Pope vs. Danny Green
During the Los Angeles Lakers’ two-month playoff run, KCP went from the doghouse to a celebrated cult hero in Hollywood. At the same time, Danny Green and his fiancée received death threats.
Let’s look at our hero, KCP’s, postseason stats versus our villain, Danny Green’s playoff numbers, to get an idea of how valuable Caldwell-Pope actually was for the Purple and Gold.
The crux of most Lakers fans wrath towards Danny Green was due to his poor three-point shooting. So, let’s compare Green’s long-distance shooting numbers against KCP’s.
Danny Green during the 2020 playoffs:
- 39 total 3-pointers made off of 115 attempts
- 34 three-point percentage
- 2.1 wide open (no player within 6 feet) 3-point attempts per game
- 2.3 open (closest defender within 4-6 feet) 3-point attempts per game
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the 2020 playoffs:
- 45 total 3-pointers made off 119 attempts
- 38 three-point percentage
- 2.9 wide open (no player within 6 feet) 3-point attempts per game
- 1.9 open (closest defender within 4-6 feet) 3-point attempts per game
We can see that KCP made six more total three-pointers than Danny Green off of four more shots throughout the playoffs, which equates to about 0.4 more long-distance makes per game. In other words, Caldwell-Pope gave the Lakers roughly one more point per game off his three-point stroke.
We can also see why KCP made six more total three-point attempts during the postseason; he got more open or wide-open looks from beyond the arc.
Overall, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green’s shooting numbers were a wash. The big difference was that KCP connected on two crunch time bombs while Green missed a WIDE open three-point look for the title. Those kinds of makes and misses stick in fans’ heads but aren’t indicative of future shooting success.
Let’s look at both player’s defensive metrics:
Danny Green throughout the 2020 postseason
- 109 defensive rating (9 on the Lakers)
- 0.5 defensive box plus/minus (8 on the Lakers)
- His assignments shot 2.4 percent better against him than their average field goal percentage
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope throughout the 2020 postseason
- 112 defensive rating (12 on the Lakers)
- 0.1 defensive box plus/minus (11 on the Lakers)
- His assignments shot 0.2 percent worst against him than their average field goal percentage
There’s noise in those numbers. Danny Green had a better defensive rating and defensive box plus/minus even though he allowed his assignment to shoot 2.4 percent better than usual. At the same time, KCP held the opposition to 0.2 percent worse than their average.
Defensive rating and defensive box plus/minus are advanced stats that show how many points per 100 possessions a player allows. KCP allowed more points per 100 possessions than Danny Green because Frank Vogel tasked him with guarding a murder’s row of point guards throughout the Lakers march through the western conference finals.
In the first round, he guarded Damian “I’ll knock a shot down from anywhere in the world” Lillard. During the second round, he harassed former MVP and the 2020 point champion, James Harden, and throughout the western conference finals, he slowed down rising star Jamal Murray.
It’s a minor miracle that KCP held those three athletes under their normal shooting average. Not many players can consistently slow down the best point guards in the world.
Oddly enough, Lakers fans derided Danny Green over his three-point shooting woes when they should have been paying closer attention to his declining perimeter defense.
In the end, Caldwell-Pope proved that he’s more than capable of stifling the top point guards in the association; while it became clear that Green’s lost a step and can no longer be trusted to guard speedy perimeter athletes. However, he’s still an excellent defender against larger wings.