(J Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com)

Caldwell-Pope Returns to Lakers

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

There have been two common threads among the players that the Lakers have signed this offseason: shooting and defense.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope brings both back to the team that he re-signed with on Friday.

The 25-year-old has yet to reach his prime, and is coming off a career year in his first season with Los Angeles.

He was arguably the Lakers’ top shooting threat, hitting career-highs of 42.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from 3-point range.

That latter figure ballooned after the All-Star break, as KCP finished the season with a 42.3 percent mark that ranked fifth in the NBA during that span.

The Lakers ran plenty of action for Caldwell-Pope, who took 156 shots off screens on a team that had no other player reach triple digits.

He was even better simply spotting up, averaging 1.11 points per possession, which ranked among the NBA’s 78th percentile.

And whether it was from attacking a closeout or cutting to the hoop, KCP had plenty of success at the rim, shooting a healthy 66.7 percent in the restricted area.

The 6-foot-5 wing also surprised many with his effectiveness on the glass. He never averaged even four rebounds in his first four seasons, but last year grabbed 5.2 per game, ranking second among shooting guards.

With KCP, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Rajon Rondo all on one roster, the Lakers have a whole crew of rebounding guards, which is perfect for their push-the-pace attack.

In addition to his presence on the boards, Caldwell-Pope was a reliable defender for a team that jumped to 12th in defensive efficiency from last the year before.

KCP was active off the ball, averaging 1.4 steals, and regularly guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player. With a blend of stamina and toughness, he was able to give the Lakers plenty in three different phases: offense, defense and rebounding.

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