When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the offseason they touted his two-way ability as being significant key for the team. His defense has been there from day one, but offensive production largely lagged behind.
That was until recently, however. Caldwell-Pope is averaging 21.2 points over the last five games, reaching the 20-point mark in each of the last four contests. Over that same stretch he is shooting 46.3 percent from the field and an impressive 43.9 percent from 3-point range.
With Brook Lopez mired in a slump, and many of the young Lakers still finding their way, Caldwell-Pope’s hot shooting is much needed.
“I think that he’s getting more comfortable with what we’re looking for. Early in the season, I asked him to kind of tone down on some of the shots,” head coach Luke Walton said after practice.
“As far as being one of the vets on the court, to help show the way we want to play, which means getting in the lane and making the extra pass.”
With Caldwell-Pope embracing and thriving in that role, Walton has allowed him some more freedom now offensively.
“I think he did a very good job of that, and now the guys have seen what we’re trying to do, and I’ve given him a little more freedom again as far as taking some of those shots in transition,” he explained.
Walton understands there has to be some limits, but sounds as if he’s willing to live with Caldwell-Pope’s decisions. “There’s always going to be some give and take, but he’s a pretty good scorer,” Walton said. “So a lot of it just comes from him deserving credit because of going out and getting points.”
Defense remains the priority for Caldwell-Pope, as that is where the Lakers need him most. But if he can continue to produce at this level offensively, it will be a huge boost once the rest of the team settles in as well.
Particularly during December, which presents a daunting challenge in the schedule.
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