Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was searching for rhythm at the beginning of the 2019-20 NBA season.
It wasn’t easy.
In his first two games, KCP averaged 24.0 minutes per night and scored one point while shooting 0-for-9 from the field. He also went 0-for-4 from 3-point range to add to the brutal start. Through the first 11 games of the season, KCP shot a combined 24-of-67 from the field overall and 5-of-22 on 3-pointers.
Lakers’ fans grew understandably impatient.
But guess what?
KCP remained patient and he turned it around!
KCP is currently averaging 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. That’s significant because he had an impressive stretch through late-December in which he scored in double figures in five consecutive games. The Georgia native tallied 18 points (7-12 FG, 2-6 3Pt, 2-2 FT), three assists, one rebound and one steal in 34 minutes in last Thursday’s 111-104 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
In case you missed it: The 34 minutes that KCP played against the Bucks is, in fact, a season-high.
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Danny Green Offers Praise to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Of the many people to praise Caldwell-Pope’s turnaround, one of the team’s key offseason signings in Danny Green had plenty to say.
“He’s doing great man,” Caldwell-Pope’s teammate, Danny Green tells me.
“Obviously he started out with a [few] struggles – it happens every season as a shooter, as a player, but he’s been amazing for us.”
“If one of our brothers is going through a difficult time, we pick him up,” LeBron James said, courtesy of Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
“And we let him know we’re right there in the foxhole with him, and that’s just what we were telling KCP early on when he was struggling with his shot or struggling with his play. ‘Listen, we’re right here with you. We’re in the foxhole with you and your time will come. Just continue to put in the work and continue to trust your habits.’ Obviously those rumblings have quieted down quite a bit.”
That encouragement for Caldwell-Pope means a lot. “I’ve got real brothers in the locker room,” Caldwell-Pope told the LA Times.
“They helped me get through it. Even though it was a lot on myself, they helped me get through it. I have a bunch of guys who have been through that, especially that No. 1 guy has been through that — LeBron (James) has been through criticism his whole career. So he talked to me a little bit. ‘There’s nothing to worry about. Just play.’”
Anthony Davis & KCP Perfect Fits With LeBron James?
Any team that LeBron James plays for requires a big man that can shoot fluid jumpers.
Think: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Chris Bosh and Kevin Love.
James has that in LA with Anthony Davis who is currently averaging 27.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.6 blocks per game. Davis has both NBA Championship and NBA Defensive Player of the Year award aspirations this season.
Any LeBron James-led team also requires a solid defender. In addition to James, Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson were defensive cogs during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship run in 2016.
Playing alongside James also requires strong outside shooting. Daniel Gibson, Kyle Korver, Ray Allen, and JR Smith are among the notable names on that front.
A positive thing has happened recently for the Lakers this season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is playing good basketball offensively and defensively.
When KCP became the starting shooting guard for Frank Vogel after Avery Bradley went down with a right leg injury, he stepped in and filled a much-needed void that has him flourishing exponentially.
“Especially defensively from the starting position,” Danny Green tells me.
“When Avery Bradley went down, he started picking guys up full court, guarding the best player on the perimeter, chasing guys and also knocking down shots. He’s been shooting well from the 3-point line and scoring the basketball whenever we need him to.”