Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has turned it around for the Los Angeles Lakers after a rough start to the 2019-20 NBA season.
After re-signing with the Lakers in 2019 NBA free agency, Caldwell-Pope figured to be one of the primary outside threats for the team, flanking Anthony Davis and LeBron James. However, he largely struggled to knock down shots to begin the season and seemed to have lost his confidence offensively.
After Avery Bradley went down with a hairline fracture in his leg, head coach Frank Vogel opted to insert Caldwell-Pope into the starting lineup and he began to flourish shooting the basketball. Since then, he has become a vital part of the rotation, especially when he plays next to James as he has been lights out from beyond the arc.
Caldwell-Pope was a big part of the team’s win against the Houston Rockets and he talked about how he was able to get going offensively, via Spectrum SportsNet
“Just run. We watched film. Coach made an emphasis… just run the floor, you get either layups or wide-open threes because they didn’t get back, so I tried to make an emphasis on that when I came in just run the floor.”
He also praised the team’s ability to win a tough game despite Davis sitting out:
“We have a hell of a team. It’s next man up mentality and I feel like we do that very well. No one complains. We’re just here to play for each other and as a unit, which is great.”
The Rockets dictated the pace of play in the first half as they were able to run their sets with little issue and James Harden pressured the Lakers defense with his outside shooting and forays to the rim. However, Los Angeles made adjustments in the second half as they looked to push the ball more and get into early offense where Caldwell-Pope excelled.
He scored 20 points on the night, shooting 7-of-14 from the field including hitting all five of his free throw attempts. Caldwell-Pope did an excellent job of running the floor in transition and moving the ball which helped Los Angeles mount their impressive second-half comeback.
The purple and gold have played some of their best basketball on the road, a sign typical of championship-level teams and they have done an excellent job stepping up in Davis’ absence. Caldwell-Pope and the rest of the Lakers get a tough test when they play the Boston Celtics next.