• Karin Abcarians

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Has Been Impressive

There’s been a consistent theme for the Lakers all season long - who outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis is going to step up? Kyle Kuzma has long been the presumptive third option, but his offense hasn’t been reliable enough to firmly own the task. LA finds itself in a next-man-up situation this postseason.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has really stepped up his game for the playoffs. After a lackluster start, he has become a more reliable shooter. He’s one of the redemption stories of this Lakers season thanks to his hard work.

During the Bubble seeding games, he wasn’t as consistent, but as soon as the playoffs began, KCP stepped into rhythm, and impressively so.

In the first-round against the Portland Trail Blazers, KCP averaged 11.2 points, 1.2 steals, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 rebounds per contest. He shot 40.6 percent from three. Nothing to write home about, but important contributions nonetheless.

Against the Houston Rockets, KCP continued to be a reliable and important piece for LA. He averaged 7.2 points and 2.2 rebounds on an improved 42.1 percent from three.

Now in the Western Conference Finals, KCP has really stepped it up. He’s posted averages of 13.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals a night. Happily for the Lakers, he’s shot 58.3 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from three in the series. He’s also been more reliable at the free-throw line.

During a Game 4 in which the Nuggets dominated, KCP was the lone Laker truly honed in. Along with Rajon Rondo and his suffocating defense, KCP helped catalyze what was almost a massive comeback.

The Lakers need players like that. The kind of guy who can not only fill the stat sheet, but who can provide an emotional spark as well.

KCP’s time in Los Angeles has largely been disappointing. But here, in the team’s first deep postseason run in years, he’s providing the club with some needed oomph. The Lakers have been able to rely on him for point production. He’s been good with defense, getting steals, and also shooting great 3-pointers. When he plays with confidence, he can do it all.