The Los Angeles Lakers’ second-highest paid player isn’t playing well enough at the moment, and it’s hurting the Lake Show.
There weren’t super high expectations for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope when he signed his second consecutive one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. KCP is a fine shooting guard who can hit some 3s and play pretty good defense. With LeBron James coming to town, that’s all the Lakers needed from him.
Unfortunately for both Los Angeles and Caldwell-Pope, this has been the sixth-year guard’s worst season since he entered the NBA. Caldwell-Pope is hitting 36.4 percent of his field goals and 31.4 percent of his 3-pointers, both career-low numbers. His 7.6 points per game is the worst mark he’s hit since his rookie year, and it’s noticeably lower than the 13.9 points he’s averaged across his last three seasons.
What’s weird about that is usually playing with LeBron is a huge positive for shooters. LeBron doesn’t just find open shooters — he knows exactly where they want to catch the ball, and he usually delivers a strike to the right spot. Somehow, that hasn’t worked for KCP despite the two sharing the floor for 210 minutes, which is more than half of Caldwell-Pope’s 417 minutes played this season.
The Lakers don’t have enough guard depth to just not play KCP, especially since Rajon Rondo got hurt, so Luke Walton is going to need to get more from him. It’s not like Caldwell-Pope isn’t getting his chances — he’s playing 20.9 minutes per game this season and has played at least 23 in each of the Lakers’ last six contests.
Much of the talk in Los Angeles will reverberate around LeBron and Luke Walton’s relationship, and pretty much every other LeBron topic imaginable, but the black hole at shooting guard that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been in 2018-19 has more than a little to do with the Lakers losing nine of their first 20 games.
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