The hapless play of the Los Angeles Lakers in their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies was easy to partially attribute to the absence of Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, two of the team’s best and most important players this season.
Redistributing Ball and Ingram’s responsibilities was never going to be easy, and on Monday taking over some of their scoring duties fell to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He scored 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting while also producing seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the defeat.
Ingram is hopeful to return Wednesday, but Ball made it seem as though he would not play against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Meaning, Caldwell-Pope might be called upon to do a bit more once again.
He simultaneously made it sound as though he is up to the challenge while also being aware he would have to split the load with the rest of the team, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“I’m always going to be aggressive. Just need to be a little more aggressive, if them two are out. And also, my teammates have to be aggressive as well. It’s there chance to come in and show what they can do.”
Caldwell-Pope had actually stepped up his play and level of aggressiveness even before Ball and Ingram went down. Over the Lakers’ last five games, the veteran guard is leading the team in scoring (16.8 points per game) while shooting 50.9 percent from the field and a scorching 48.4 percent from 3-point range, all improvements upon his season averages.
Ingram’s talents are impossible to perfectly replicate by anyone else on the Lakers’ roster, and Ball is too important to the style the team plays for his absence to not be hugely felt with every game he misses.
However, if Caldwell-Pope can continue the little streak he’s on and the rest of the team steps up on defense, the Lakers might be able to play better without their talented young duo than anyone expects.