One of the Los Angeles Lakers biggest focuses this past offseason and training camp was on the defensive end of the floor, as the Lakers ranked dead last in the league in defensive efficiency the last two seasons. To address that need, they signed one of the best perimeter defenders in the league in shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Caldwell-Pope’s presence was immediately felt, as he guards the opposing team’s best perimeter player every night, which takes a ton of pressure off Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who is still adjusting to the NBA game.
Laker head coach Luke Walton commented on Caldwell-Pope’s impact, saying that he helps set the tone on the defensive end, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:
“I think KCP coming over, just a hard-nosed player. He’s been in that Eastern Conference, hard worker. He kind of helps set that tone.
It is just 10 games into the season, but the Lakers currently rank seventh out of 30 teams in defensive rating, which is way better than even Walton could have expected this early. But that’s a credit to the front office’s additions of guys like Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez, in addition to rookies Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma.
Additionally, Caldwell-Pope bringing that intensity on the defensive end in practice and in games has helped players like Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson improve on that end of the floor as well, as they lacked that effort and intensity a year ago.
Also something that can’t be overlooked is what Caldwell-Pope’s has brought on the offensive end of the floor, particularly at the end of games as he has hit some clutch shots. So although it is early in the season, the signing of Caldwell-Pope looks to be one of the more underrated moves of the offseason.
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