Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been an iron man through his first three seasons with the team. Out of 235 total games over that span, Caldwell-Pope missed a total of 10, with only two of them happening because of an injury.
Six were due to his legal troubles in 2017 when he could not leave the state of California for road games for a month, and the other two were for rest prior to the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
On Sunday, Caldwell-Pope missed his first game due to injury in over two years after suffering a left ankle sprain in the Lakers’ second win over the San Antonio Spurs. L.A. was able to win against the Memphis Grizzlies without him, but clearly struggled with their perimeter defense with both he and Alex Caruso sidelined.
Since he’s been such an iron man, Caldwell-Pope has rarely had a chance to spend significant minutes on the bench, something he said was actually a positive experience. “There was no frustration. The only frustration was I wanted to be out there with my brothers playing,” Caldwell-Pope said.
“Just sitting down, watching the game and actually seeing what’s going on out there, it was good. My experience was good from the bench. I got to help the young guys out and even some of the new guys. Just talking to everybody. It felt good being able to see it from the bench perspective.”
Specifically, the eighth-year veteran got to talk to Talen Horton-Tucker and help him understand the game a bit better. “Mostly Talen, because he’s the youngest that’s out there getting minutes, so just trying to put him in the right position. Especially on defense,” Caldwell-Pope explained.
“We already know what he can do on the offensive end. Just trying to keep him right on the defensive end, tell him how to do the play, if he did something wrong letting him know, and also just breaking it down to him so he’ll understand.”
Caldwell-Pope also added sitting a game out was beneficial on an individual level as well. “There’s a lot you can take away,” he said.
“Last game, I felt like the first quarter we were a little sluggish and not enough energy. I think we were just one pass to a shot that first quarter. We were just making a lot of mistakes. I could pinpoint them and actually see what was going on.”
Caldwell-Pope hoped to return for Tuesday night’s bout with the Grizzlies, but he was again held out.
Caldwell-Pope believes Lakers depth will allow him to fully recover
Part of the plan for the Lakers heading into free agency was to create significant depth. This way, players coming off a historically short offseason can feel comfortable taking some games off to fully recover from injuries without sacrificing potential wins.
Caldwell-Pope shared the same sentiment regarding his ankle injury. “I feel like our bench is deep enough for me to take my time coming back,” he said.
“I know we’re also missing A.C., which he’ll be back pretty soon. We made the concept last year, the next man up mentality, and we still have that.”
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!