Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been with the Los Angeles Lakers since 2017 and the majority of his time in the purple and gold has been heavily criticized. Mainly due to questionable performances individually, coupled with poor team performance.
However, in the 2019-20 season, despite a poor start, Caldwell-Pope has really turned it around to deliver some of his best performances in a Laker uniform yet. Through 69 regular season games, the 27-year-old averaged 9.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. On 46.7% shooting from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc.
As the NBA season resumed in Orlando, Caldwell-Pope struggled to re-discover form, converting just five 3-pointers in 6 games heading into the postseason. Although, it is worth noting that the team as a whole struggled during this period, going 3-5 for the remainder of the regular season.
Disaster then struck in Game 1 of the 1st round of the playoffs, against the Portland Trail Blazers. As the Lakers fell 0-1 in disappointing fashion, all eyes were set on Caldwell-Pope with his 1 point on 0-9 shooting, in 29 minutes.
The purple and gold did regroup to win 4 straight and eliminate the Trail Blazers in 5 games (4-1). Along with the team regrouping, KCP was a focal point to the Lakers’ success, finding his scoring touch and staying active on defense.
Over the course of the series, the 6-foot-5 guard’s averages bumped up to 11.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1 steal, in 26 minutes per game. Whilst he shot at a below average 39.5%, he did convert at a 39.7% rate from downtown. Which gets him off the hook, as his primary role is to space the floor and knock down corner looks.
On the catch-and-shoot, which accumulate a large bulk of his scoring, Caldwell-Pope shot 52% and when wide open he converted at a 40.9% rate. He was the 5th-highest on the team in plus-minus (7.8), sitting behind Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Danny Green, and Alex Caruso.
He had impressive outings in Game 2 and 5, where he scored 16 points and 14 points, respectively. Knocking down four 3-pointers in both. In the latter, he tallied 3 steals, as the Lakers rounded out the series.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be averaging the second lowest averages of his career in points per game and rebounds, but he is arguably playing the best basketball of his career to date. His shooting numbers are at a career-high in both field goal and 3-point percentage, as he is actively contributing on a championship contender.
If he can keep up his shooting from range in round 2, and beyond, he will be a huge piece for the Lakers in chasing championship number 17.
Cover image credit: Associated Press.
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