On Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers introduced their big free agent signing, shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Though training camp hasn’t begun, Caldwell-Pope has already penciled into the starting shooting guard spot thanks to his excellent two-way play.
An excellent shooter and defender, Caldwell-Pope can make a major difference on both ends of the floor, but at his press conference he noted that defense has always been more important to him, via Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet:
What's more important to KCP, bringing offense or defense to Lakers? Defense, he said. "I've been rolling that way since I was in college."
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 18, 2017
That mindset is exactly what the Lakers were looking at when they signed him Caldwell-Pope will be able to defend the other team’s best guard and take some pressure off rookie Lonzo Ball.
Magic Johnson pointed out how important Caldwell-Pope’s defense is to the Lakers’ offense as well, according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Magic on what Pope’s defense can bring to the Lakers: "If we don’t defend, we can’t run and we want to run run run run."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) July 18, 2017
Defense always leads to offense and for a team that wants to get up and down the court like the Lakers do, they must get stops. Defense starts with perimeter players locking down, and the Lakers now have one in tow with the fourth year guard from Georgia.
With a lot of interchangeable and athletic pieces, getting out in transition is the Lakers’ best strategy, especially with Ball being at his best on the fast break.
Even though Caldwell-Pope will be focused on defense first, he will still make an impact on offense as well. He can play on and off the ball with excellent shooting, movement, and passing. The Lakers seemingly signed the perfect fit for their roster.