Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope might not be giving the team $18 million worth of production on a nightly basis this season, but the free-agent-to-be has still been solid for over the last two months.
Since Feb. 1, the Lakers have been 1.1 points per 100 possessions better when Caldwell-Pope plays than they are when he sits. As the Lakers envisioned when they signed him last summer, the veteran guard is chipping in on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Caldwell-Pope’s career-high 39.6 percent shooting from distance has been a boon for the spacing-starved Lakers. If his averages hold, this will be Caldwell-Pope’s second season in a row setting a new career high as a 3-point shooter.
He explained why he believes he’s been able to do so to Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group:
He shot 35 percent from deep last season with Detroit and said he is better this year because he is able to get “more repetition.”
How many extra reps Caldwell-Pope has gotten to shoot in practice this season is unknown, but he hasn’t exactly had more during games for the Lakers.
In fact, Caldwell-Pope is actually shooting slightly fewer 3-point attempts this season (5.7) than he did as a member of the Detroit Pistons last year (5.8).
The big difference is that Caldwell-Pope is knocking down a great deal more of his attempts than he did last season, further growth for a player who is still just 25 years old. Caldwell-Pope set a career high with eight 3-pointers last month, and matched it in Thursday’s loss.
Caldwell-Pope will be a free agent this July and it’s unclear if Los Angeles will re-sign him, but he has certainly made a strong case with his incredible shooting skills.
If the Lakers miss out on their plan A of signing two max-caliber free agents and can bring back Caldwell-Pope on a decent value contract, he could end up not being the rental he was widely expected to be after all.