Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was among the Los Angeles Lakers who saw limited action in the preseason, but he looked much like the same player that was crucial towards the team’s 2020 championship run.
Caldwell-Pope finished with 15 points while knocking down a trio of 3-pointers in the Lakers’ preseason finale as they remained undefeated in exhibition play. Now the team turns their focus to the regular season as they are set to host the L.A. Clippers on Opening Night.
But heading into the start of the season there has been a lot of discussion about how the Lakers will approach things, especially in the early going.
The idea of load management, especially for some of the veterans, has been a thing that has been discussed which has led some to believe the Lakers may ease their way into the season and not care too much. But Caldwell-Pope firmly disagrees.
“We’re going to approach them as if every game means something. I feel like everybody’s mindset is we’re not just going to come in and start slow,” he said. “We don’t want to start slow.
“I know there’s a target on our back, everybody is going to come in wanting to beat us, everybody is going to be ready. I feel like our mindset is we’re going to be ready as well. We got our leaders, ‘Bron and A.D.
“Their mindset is like, ‘Man, we don’t care if it’s the preseason. We want to get out there and get after it.’ And four days from now, the regular season starts, and we’re going to be ready.”
One thing that Caldwell-Pope is spot-on about is the target that this team will have. Even when the Lakers were in the lottery every year they seemed to get the best efforts of every other team in the league.
Now as the defending champions and prohibitive favorites to repeat, the rest of the league will be coming for them.
Thankfully for the Lakers, the front office chose to reload and seemingly improve the roster, which included a new contract for Caldwell-Pope himself. The team’s depth is outstanding and looks completely prepared to handle everything that the upcoming season will undoubtedly bring.
With the Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers all within the first week of the season, the Lakers will be immediately tested by playoff teams. With the opportunity to prove they are clearly the favorites, it seems like the last thing the Lakers plan on is taking things easy when the season starts.
Caldwell-Pope believes championship expectations will keep the Lakers focused
The idea of a championship hangover is something that is real throughout all of sports. Oftentimes teams win a championship and become complacent because they have accomplished their ultimate goal. Caldwell-Pope believes the opposite will be the case for the Lakers.
“I feel like it’s going to lock us in mentally,” the veteran guard recently said. “Right now we do have that target on our backs.
“Everybody is trying to knock us down, and I feel like it’s going to bring us closer together and our chemistry is going to be even stronger than it was last year.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!