Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has had his ups and downs with the fans in his three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers but is an important role player for the team.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope spent two efficient seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs where he averaged 15.8 points and 6.1 rebounds on 34% shooting from three. He was notorious for his perimeter defending ability leading to him averaging 1.9 steals a game in his time with the Bulldogs.
His college resume was enough to make him a middle lottery pick in a deep draft class. Pope went on to be the eighth pick of the 2013 NBA draft to the Detroit Pistons. During his four-year stint with the Pistons, he greatly improved his scoring compared to his rookie year. He also lived up to his hype as a great defender.
However, the Pistons chose after his rookie contract expired to renounce Caldwell-Pope’s rights which allowed the Lakers to sign him in free agency. In his first season with the Lakers, he pleaded guilty to a probation violation.
As a result of his sentencing, he was not allowed to leave the state of California meaning that Caldwell-Pope could only play in Laker’s home games. After this incident, however, there he has stayed completely out of trouble and has morphed into a solid role model and player for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Strengths And Weaknesses
Caldwell-Pope has improved his game to be a perfect role player for the Lakers. Even in his first year with the Lakers, he has been a very effective three-point shooter. This year, he is shooting an elite 39% from behind the line.
On the defensive side of the ball, he can guard any perimeter player in the league. He has even spent time in matchups against the Clippers guarding both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. He also has the athletic ability to consistently run and finish Laker’s fast breaks.
One downside of his game is that he is an inconsistent shooter, and at times his cold streaks lead to him being bench at times that the team could use him. Along with this, Caldwell-Pope can struggle to get rebounds. Over his NBA career, he averages 3.2 rebounds a game. This is serviceable, however, it is something that he could continue to improve.
What He Brings To The Team
Caldwell-Pope is someone who can play meaningful playoff minutes for the Lakers. At the beginning of the year, fans were calling for him to be traded, benched, or somehow let go from the team.
However, instead of letting the hate get to him, he improved his game and could be a true X-factor for the Lakers. Even when he is struggling shooting, Caldwell-Pope always brings intensity on the defensive side of the ball and can guard the opposing teams best perimeter player.
This gives players like LeBron James a chance to conserve energy on defense while Pope hounds the best opposing player. He is someone who the Los Angeles Lakers should re-sign and keep with the team as he is the perfect player to keep around during the “LeBron era” of the Lakers.