Entering the offseason, the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers understood they needed to upgrade on both ends of the floor. While Lonzo Ball is set to run Luke Walton’s offense, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez will add different dimensions to the offense, while also helping clamp down on defense.
Both Lopez and Caldwell-Pope were brought in on one-year contracts, with a chance to immediately upgrade the overall team. At the same time, these younger veterans will also be able to teach the young core of the Lakers the desire and dedication it takes in order to elevate their games to the next level.
Ever since his introductory press conference, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have called on Caldwell-Pope to be the defensive anchor for this team.
With training camp getting underway earlier this week, the entire Lakers roster is now officially looking forward to the 2017-18 season, while also getting acclimated to one another. According to Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet, Caldwell-Pope has already stood out as a defensive presence and leader:
Walton on KCP: “He’s been awesome. So much of what we’ve been doing is defense … his energy, effort, leadership has been incredible.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 29, 2017
Walton alerted the media and his team that the focus of training camp would be on the defensive end, after ranking last in defensive efficiency during the 2016-17 season. Although that limits what the team can do offensively in such a short time, it is important that the team first buys into the defensive end of the floor to play for one another.
The disparity between the Western and Eastern Conferences are at an all-time high right now, as the Lakers will have to face plenty of elite guards in the West. Johnson has already pointed to how Caldwell-Pope will be an immediate help, as he can alleviate some of Ball’s duties by being able to guard the likes of Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and Damian Lillard.
Caldwell-Pope is a prime example for the roster to abide by, with reports stating that the 24-year-old has already stood out from the rest. His selfless approach on the defensive end could be exactly what Walton needs entering his second season as head coach, while also sparing Ball from immense defensive duties.