With Avery Bradley opting out of the NBA restart and Rajon Rondo suffering a fractured thumb in practice, the Los Angeles Lakers will have to lean more heavily on their other guards. In particular Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has slid into the starting lineup.
Caldwell-Pope re-signed with the Lakers on a two-year, $16 million deal this past offseason and became a valuable bench contributor. With a simplified role, he excelled shooting the ball as he connected on 39.4% on 3.5 three-point attempts a game.
Caldwell-Pope was able to get some playoff experience back when he was a member of the Detroit Pistons and believes he is much more prepared for this upcoming trip to the postseason.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the last four years. Just getting a taste of that in 2016 and now having an opportunity to do the same here, I feel great about it. Over the four years my game has expanded,” Caldwell-Pope said.
“I’ve grown a lot in areas I needed to be better at and I think I’m ready for this opportunity.”
By all accounts the Lakers collectively have had productive practices in Orlando. That’s carried into multiple stretches of their first two scrimmages, which is a testament to how they were able to get their workouts in during quarantine.
“I had weights around the house. I had weights and our trainers sent over stuff we can do. I also bought a Peloton bike to do cardio,” Caldwell-Pope explained. “That’s pretty much how I stayed in shape. If I wasn’t running around with my kids, I was on the bike or lifting weights.”
JR Smith and Dion Waiters will be able to pick up some of the bench scoring, but Caldwell-Pope’s two-way play will likely be a key factor for Los Angeles when the playoffs arrives.
Caldwell-Pope building chemistry with JR Smith, Dion Waiters
With Caldwell-Pope expected to move into the starting lineup, Smith and Waiters will be expected to carry some of the bench scoring.
Waiters was signed right before the hiatus began, while Smith was away from basketball for nearly two years. There are question marks whether or not they can consistently contribute, but one issue is not how they fit in terms of chemistry and personality.
“I feel like it’s good for us. We haven’t been around those guys, so it gives us a chance to see how they interact and their personalities,” Caldwell-Pope said. “Just being teammates, really. Just cracking jokes and still being our normal self, and letting them know they can be normal as well. I think it’s going good for those guys, and we’re here for them.”
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