The Denver Nuggets currently sit atop the Western Conference and are one of the favorites to win it all this season. However, the rest of the journey won't be easy because of the quality of opponents they will have to go through in the playoffs. That's where having former champion Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on their side might give the Nuggets an advantage.
The shooting guard even has an optimistic outlook for Denver's chances, seeing some similarities between the team and the 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers that brought home the title.
"I definitely feel like I see a lot of the same traits from that championship team," Caldwell-Pope told Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
KCP's statement might be laughable to some. After all, the Nuggets seem to have little resemblance with the Lakers crew that won the championship in the 2020 NBA bubble. Well, there is a similarity in that both squads have Caldwell-Pope on the roster to provide outside shooting and perimeter defense.
Also, each has a dominant player who can command the offense and make teammates better - Nikola Jokic and LeBron James. Nuggets coach Michael Malone even shared how the two superstars are the same in terms of basketball IQ.
A stark difference between the two squads is that Denver does not have a player like Anthony Davis. Maybe Jamal Murray comes close, but the high-scoring point guard has yet to prove he can reach Davis' level.
But it should be noted that Caldwell-Pope referred to similarities in traits, which he didn't expound on.
What do the Nuggets need to improve on?
If KCP and the Nuggets want to make a successful title run, they need to learn from the 2020 champs and continue clamping down on defense. After struggling on that end of the floor earlier this season, the team from the Mile High City has been elite defensively in recent games.
It remains to be seen if they can sustain their defensive showing for the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign. The Nuggets have been able to light it up on offense since the beginning of the season. But if history is any indication, Denver needs to complement that with a top-notch defense.