2019-20 Lakers Season Preview: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

2018-19 NBA Season Review

Only one player suited up every game for the Los Angeles Lakers during the extremely challenging 2018-19 NBA season and his name was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Unfortunately for Caldwell-Pope, his numbers overall dipped some from his first season in the purple and gold.

Most notable was Caldwell-Pope’s three-point shooting dropping down to 34.7% after knocking down 38.3% the prior season. Additionally, his points, rebounds, assists, and steals all dropped as he played around eight fewer minutes.

Caldwell-Pope remained an active defender for the Lakers, one of the few on the team capable of chasing around some of the league’s quicker guards, but inconsistency plagued him throughout the year. Good five-game stretches would be followed by struggles and with the Lakers employing a large wing rotation, his minutes fluctuated accordingly.

However, Caldwell-Pope ended the season on an outstanding note with six double-digit scoring games in the team’s last seven contests — including back-to-back 32-point outings. Overall, the 26-year-old averaged 23.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists during that time.

After playing on one-year deals over the last two seasons, Caldwell-Pope re-signed with the Lakers on a two-year, $16 million deal after they could not sign Kawhi Leonard.

2019-20 NBA Season Outlook

Caldwell-Pope is in an interesting position as they added two players at his position in Danny Green and Avery Bradley. Green seems like a lock to be in the starting lineup, so it could come down to a competition between Caldwell-Pope and Bradley for the backup minutes behind him.

Both players occupy the same role as primary defenders and spot-up shooters who will need to show they can consistently knock down open looks. Coincidentally, both also had excellent ends to last season that many are wondering if they can carry over into the new season.

Caldwell-Pope is well-suited to be a solid player off the bench who can provide scoring in bunches as well as harass the opposing team’s best guard. The name of the game for him will be consistency and whether the Lakers can rely on him on a regular basis in his third season.

So far, Caldwell-Pope has shown himself to be rather streaky, but when he is on, he can be a huge part of head coach Frank Vogel’s rotation in need of shooting and defense. Unfortunately for him, the Lakers have stocked themselves at the position so that if he is not performing, he could find himself on the fringe of the rotation.

If Caldwell-Pope can bring shooting, energy, and defense from the 2017-18 season, he could easily be one of the team’s main players off the bench — part of the expected eight-man rotation. However, if the inconsistencies continue, he could find himself on the outside looking in as Bradley — and even the likes of Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels — give Vogel others he could turn to in his place.