The Los Angeles Lakers had a busy offseason, but their biggest acquisition in free agency as unquestionably shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. After spending the first four years of his career with the Detroit Pistons, he was unable to come to an agreement on a new contract with them and made the leap to the Lakers on a one-year deal worth $18 million.
Caldwell-Pope has cultivated a reputation as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and his offensive game is perhaps a bit underrated. Unfortunately, he was suspended for the first two games of the 2017-2018 season, which forced him to watch from the sidelines.
After finally making his debut against the New Orleans Pelicans, Caldwell-Pope explained to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times how it felt to sit out and then finally take the floor with his new teammates:
“It was kind of hard for me,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I wanted to be out there helping my teammates just playing along with them. They pulled out one for me. It just felt good to just be out there.”
On paper, Caldwell-Pope is an excellent fit next to rookie point guard Lonzo Ball. He can defend the opposing team’s best guard on a nightly basis, which frees up Ball to take on a slightly easier challenge. Given Ball’s lack of experience in the NBA, this could prove to be a crucial benefit for the rookie.
Additionally, on the offensive end, Caldwell-Pope has flashed solid passing skills and court vision. His three-point shot is developing, and he’s good at attacking off the bounce, as evidenced by the 20 points that he put up against the Pelicans in his debut.
Once he gets in-sync with his Lakers teammates, he figures to be an excellent contributor on both ends of the floor, and can hopefully help the team pick up some wins.