Coming off last year’s championship run, the 2021 season went as bad as it could have for the Los Angeles Lakers. After a great start, the team was decimated by injuries including two major ones to Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The injuries didn’t stop in the playoffs with both Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missing games in the team’s first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The story all year long for the Lakers was adjusting rotations due to who was available and players having to switch up their roles accordingly. But one thing that was apparent was that the Lakers’ belief in their abilities never wavered and the effort was always there. This was something that stood out to Caldwell-Pope himself.
“No matter what, we never gave up,” the veteran guard noted. “We fought through adversity, whatever it was, injuries, or just losing a couple games in a row. I feel like we laid it all out this season. No matter the timetable that we had to recovery I feel like we left it all out and gave it our best.”
Questions will always be asked about what could have happened had the Lakers stayed healthy, but injuries are a part of every NBA season and this year happened to be one that caught up with L.A. But as Caldwell-Pope noted, the Lakers truly left everything on the court.
Even in their final game, facing a huge early deficit and elimination, the team fought with everything they had to try and get back into that contest.
The adversity the Lakers faced this season was massive. From James, Davis and Dennis Schroder missing time, to trying to build chemistry with midseason acquisitions, it was a tall task for the franchise to overcome and in the end, they just weren’t able to.
But that was not due to a lack of effort, and Caldwell-Pope and the rest of the Lakers can rest assured knowing they gave it everything they had.
Caldwell-Pope received third-place vote NBA Defensive Player of the Year
One reason the Lakers were able to stay afloat was because of their effort on the defensive end of the floor. Even without Anthony Davis for most of the year, the Lakers ended the season as the top-ranked defensive team and one media member went so far as to vote Kentavious Caldwell-Pope third place for NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
The guard was often tasked with defending the opposing team’s best player and did a more than admirable job of doing so. With Davis gone, the Lakers may not have had the standout player on that end of the floor, but one voter viewed Caldwell-Pope as being deserving of recognition for his efforts defensively.
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