In the absence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, several Los Angeles Lakers players have had to step up in order to keep the team treading water.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is arguably the one Laker who raised his play the most as he has started to resemble the players that started off the 2020-21 season so well. Caldwell-Pope is shooting around 50% from beyond the arc this month and has picked up more of the offensive burden in the half-court.
In the Lakers’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, the guard scored a team-high 29 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-12 from beyond the arc. Caldwell-Pope knows that even LeBron James and Anthony Davis are back to full health, he will need to remain aggressive.
“The floor is gonna open up big time when those guys come back. We’ve already seen what we were supposed to with AD tonight, they were doubling, so that swing is gonna be there. So just me staying aggressive with those guys do come back, just continue to put the pressure on the opponents.”
Caldwell-Pope knows that with James and Davis out there, he’s gonna continue to get plenty of open looks because of the attention they draw.
“It’s gonna be important. We know when Bron gets back, we already got AD back, those guys, it’s always gonna be in their hands as much as possible. Just trying to get them back acclimated within the game flow, but for me and Dennis, we just got to stay aggressive, doing what we’re doing now even when those guys come back. So it will be opportunities there for that to happen so we just got to take full advantage of it.”
Having Davis back in the lineup was a joyous sight to see, and although he had a rough outing, it was clear the rest of the Lakers were happy to see one of their stars back. Davis sat out the second half against the Mavericks, making way for Caldwell-Pope to pick up more of the scoring slack.
This has been Caldwell-Pope’s best stretch during the season, so Los Angeles has to feel encouraged about their chances in the playoffs once James and Davis are back up to speed.
Vogel excited about Caldwell Pope’s recent play
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel recently challenged Caldwell-Pope to score more, and the latter has responded in the perfect way. Vogel made sure to praise the shooting guard for his recent performances.
“KCP has been playing this way for a few weeks now and I love it,” Vogel said. “I’m super excited about what he’s done over the last few weeks and I think that’s something that can carry over to when we’re whole with Bron, AD and Drum out there. I think we’re gonna be a tough team to beat if you get that type of performance from Dennis and KCP, so really encouraging signs for both of those guys.”
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