Lakers Lead

KCP Thriving in 3rd Season with Lakers

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In his third season donning the purple and gold, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has brought his game to a whole new level. The timing could not be better, as this is easily the best team he has been a part of in his seven-year career.

The Lakers have a real depth issue, hence the reports of their activity on the trade front. KCP’s improved production has been a big reason their lack of depth hasn’t hurt them much to this point.

 

Playing alongside a second elite talent in Anthony Davis this season definitely has helped KCP improve his production. He isn’t asked to do things outside of his comfort zone, like find his own shot in the half court. His usage rate of 14.1 is the second-lowest of his career– only his rookie campaign was lower (13.6).

Caldwell-Pope is in a situation that is well suited for his skill set, and he is thriving in his role for the first time since he came to L.A.

Ability To Play Off LeBron & AD

The most important thing for role players on contending teams is their fit alongside the stars. In L.A., that would obviously be LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Both LBJ and AD are able to utilize their talents best when their teammates are able to spread the floor around them.

Caldwell-Pope is shooting 45.1% on catch-and-shoot threes this season, an 8.4% increase from last year. While he is taking two fewer attempts per game, the improved efficiency is what is so valuable to the team. James and Davis demand so much attention from the defense that the other players on the court are guaranteed to get good looks– looks on which KCP is capitalizing.

His overall 3PT% is over 40% for the season– a number he hasn’t eclipsed yet in his career. Currently the Lakers leader in 3PT%, KCP has become one of his team’s most important offensive weapons.

On the current nine-game win streak, KCP has accounted for 20% of the Lakers made three-pointers. In those games, he’s shooting a scorching 53.1% from deep while most of the roster has struggled shooting.

Effort Every Single Night

KCP makes the occasional play that makes you scratch your head, which can be especially frustrating depending on the situation. This year he hasn’t been prone to as many mental errors, which could be in part due to him being asked to do less.

One thing that is not frustrating is the effort he plays with on a consistent basis. He plays extremely hard on every possession, and it’s been particularly noticeable on the defensive end.

Case in point:

https://twitter.com/LakeShowFamily/status/1210014765059313665

Here’s another one, this time tracking down a ball that most players wouldn’t even attempt to chase after. Not only does he get the Lakers possession, it instantly results in an easy bucket.

You can’t teach hustle, and when you put in the hustle that KCP does, you naturally gain advantages over your opponent over the course of a game.

Considering the roster as a whole, Caldwell-Pope has solidified himself as a crucial part to the Lakers’ success. He is playing the best ball of his career right now, and in doing so, has emerged as a true difference maker.

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About Garrett Brooks

I am a Sport Management student, with experience in Basketball Training, Analytics, and events. I spend a lot of time in the Basketball world, and I hope to share some of my insights with others.

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