Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Bringing Balance to Lakers Roster

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Gregory Shamus- Getty Images

On July 11, 2017, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal worth $18 million.

The Lakers now have a promising young shooting guard that can play on both sides of the ball, something that was missing in the starting lineup last year. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will immediately make an impact on the Lakers defense, a defense that was ranked last in defensive efficiency last year. Caldwell-Pope also improved his three-point shooting percentage to 35% last year which was an increase of 4.1% from the year before, which has turned him into one of the promising 3-and-D players in the league.

Defense

The signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will now take pressure off of Lonzo Ball on the defensive side of the ball.

Caldwell-Pope will be asked to guard the opposing teams best scoring guard, and he is more than capable of doing so. In the above highlight, he had the tough task of following Steph Curry around all night. He shows great lateral movement and an ability to stay in front of one of the best point guards in the game.

What Caldwell-Pope specifically does well on defense is he can effectively run through screens and closes out on his defender when they catch the ball. He has a high defensive IQ, knowing to stick to shooters and run them off the three-point line taking their preferred shot away. The instances when Caldwell-Pope gets beat for closing out too hard, he shows the quickness to get back into the play and doesn’t give up.

A major benefit of signing Caldwell-Pope as well is now the Lakers will have two guys on the perimeter that can play meaningful defense, with the other player being Brandon Ingram. These two players will be able to help off the ball if Lonzo Ball shows rookie mistakes on the defensive end.

Shooting

With the acquisitions of Ball and Brook Lopez, the Lakers needed a shooting guard that would be able to space the floor and knock down the open three-point shot. They are getting that with Caldwell-Pope, who shot 35% from the three-point line and has shown a lot of improvement in that area. With more playmakers now in Los Angeles, look for him to shoot a better percentage this upcoming season than he did in his past four seasons with Detroit.

One of the more exciting scenarios to look for this upcoming season is the transition 3 that Caldwell-Pope likes to take. With Ball already looking like he’s going to lead the Lakers to an up-tempo style of play, Caldwell-Pope will have many open looks in transition. If he is able to improve his three-point percentage even more, this will be his best season in the league by far.

Improved Playmaking

When Caldwell-Pope first entered the league, he was not known for the making the extra pass and creating for others. Now entering his fifth season of NBA action, he had his best season passing the ball. He averaged 2.5 assists per game last year, while only turning the ball over 1.1 times per game.

Expect those assist numbers to go up since Caldwell-Pope will now be in an offensive system that wants the ball to be constantly moving. He will also be playing with a team that has more outside shooting with the Lakers than what he had with the Detroit Pistons. Instead of passing it to Andre Drummond or Stanley Johnson, he will now be able to kick it out to players such as Brook Lopez or Brandon Ingram who have shown they can score off of a catch-and-shoot situation.

Impact of the One-Year Deal

Signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal will both benefit himself and the Los Angeles Lakers. Caldwell-Pope will be a featured player in the Lakers offense and has the chance to put up impressive numbers so he can get himself a huge payday next summer.

Signing him to a one-year deal helps the Lakers because this shows that players still want to play for the purple and gold and will keep maximum cap space open for next summer. If Caldwell-Pope is able to improve the Lakers with the young talent they have, potential superstar free agents could recognize that and see Los Angeles as a potential destination where they could contend.

Caldwell-Pope also has the chance to impress Magic Johnson and the rest of the Lakers front office for a whole year to where they could sign him to a much longer deal next summer. Since he is only 24, he still has loads of potential and can be a starter on the Lakers for many years to come.

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