Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is now in his second year with Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers, and has struggled to find consistency in his game.
Last year, a jail sentence prohibited him from playing road games, leading to a long slump, but he found his stride towards the end of the season. Caldwell-Pope turned that into a another one-year contract with the Lakers.
This season started poorly for Caldwell-Pope as he was removed from the starting lineup after just three games and saw a significant decrease in minutes from last season.
However, Caldwell-Pope was able to once again find his rhythm, scoring in double digits in six straight games, five of which were Lakers wins, while shooting 45 percent from three.
“To me, he’s relaxed out there, just playing basketball. He’s a very good basketball player.” Walton said of Caldwell-Pope’s recent surge.
“He’s found a nice groove as far as when he’s open, shooting it, he’s getting after it on defense. When you get comfortable and just relax and play and you’re a good player, good things happen.”
However, because of this play style, it’s likely that from time to time, Caldwell-Pope will have some off games. In Friday night’s victory against the Utah Jazz, he had just 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field. However, Walton emphasized that off nights shouldn’t affect the way he plays.
“I told him just shoot the ball. ‘You’re open, shoot it. You’re a great shooter,'” Walton said. “We’ve been telling him that ever since he’s been here.”
Caldwell-Pope is obviously not LeBron James, but his contributions off the bench for the Lakers cannot be undersold, as his defensive prowess and his shooting ability have always come in handy when the team needs him the most.