After finishing last season as the 21st best 3-point shooting team in the NBA by shooting 34.9%, the Los Angeles Lakers have improved greatly. Through 13 games, the purple and gold are shooting 39.6% from beyond the arc, which is currently sixth-best in the NBA. The knock on the Lakers last season was that they didn’t shoot 3-pointers well. If they’ve solved that issue, it’s hard to imagine they don’t repeat as world champions.
One of the reasons they’ve seen a big uptick in 3-point percentage is thanks to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He’s hitting an absurd 55% from deep. That number probably isn’t sustainable but he’s playing at a very high level. Anthony Davis recently ranked the Lakers’ best shooters and placed Caldwell-Pope number one. The veteran guard agreed.
“Numbers don’t lie,” Caldwell Pope said of his 3-point shooting, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “But I’m really enjoying LeBron shooting the ball. He’s shooting it at a tremendous clip. He’s knocking them down and it’s fun seeing him have [success] shooting the ball as well. But we all know, I’m the real shooter for sure.”
Caldwell-Pope is on a historic pace right now so it’s hard to argue against him. He’s been on a roll since the NBA Finals and is making the Lakers look smart for giving him so much money in the offseason.
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LeBron James Thinks He’s the Lakers’ Top Shooter
Caldwell-Pope does have the best 3-point shooting numbers on the Lakers but the team is littered with strong shooters right now. LeBron James praised the team’s shooting ability recently.
“I mean, we got a lot of great shooters on the team, man. KCP is a great shooter. Wes Matthews is a great shooter. [Kyle Kuzma] can shoot the heck out of the ball. Dennis the Menace [Schroder] can shoot the ball as well. AD can shoot the ball,” LeBron said, via Silver Screen & Roll. “We got a lot of great, knock-down shooters.”
However, LeBron isn’t buying that he’s not the best shooter on the team.
“If someone says ‘bet,’ then obviously you guys know I’m going to take myself. That’s just the competitive nature in me and the work ethic I put into my shot,” LeBron said. “I feel real good with my shot right now, both from the free-throw line and also from the 3-point line, and I want to continue that.
“It’s just continuing to give defenses different styles of my play. Playing pick-and-roll basketball, playing in the mid-range, playing in the post, getting out on the break where I’ve always been pretty good,” LeBron continued. “Continuing to keep the defenses off balance will help our team.”
With the game on the line, the Lakers would almost certainly prefer LeBron take the shot over Caldwell-Pope but that shouldn’t discredit how well the guard has been playing. Los Angeles really does have an embarrassment of riches right now.
Lakers on a Roll
The Lakers shooting this well from the 3-point line should seriously scare the rest of the NBA. They already had the best team last season and it appears they’ve fixed their biggest weakness. The defense is playing strong, LeBron still looks like an MVP candidate and the new players are still trying to get comfortable.
The Lakers should only get better as the season goes on. They’re playing with a ton of confidence right now and they’re loaded with talent. It’s going to be hard to stop them if they can stay healthy.