Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had an up-and-down first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. While he did record career-highs in both field goal and three-point percentage, Caldwell-Pope had some struggles as well, particularly early in the season while dealing with a prison sentence.
Once that was finished, however, he really turned it on, shooting over 42 percent from three-point range over the last four months of the season and oftentimes keeping the Lakers offense afloat when others struggled. The Lakers rewarded Caldwell-Pope with another contract this offseason amid high hopes for what he can bring to the team.
ESPN believes in him as well as they showed in this year’s NBArank. ESPN unveiled the list with NBA players ranked between Nos. 51-100, and Caldwell-Pope was the first Lakers player to appear, coming in at No. 92.
The biggest question for Caldwell-Pope heading into this season is what role he will be filling and whether he will start or come off the bench. Josh Hart came on strong at the end of last season and kept that up through the offseason with a Las Vegas Summer League MVP. Those two will be in a huge battle to determine the starting shooting guard role.
Obviously, with LeBron James now in the fold things are bound to change. For someone like Caldwell-Pope, he should experience even more open looks with James commanding so much attention along with other playmakers such as Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram creating and finding him as well.
Caldwell-Pope also remains one of the Lakers’ best perimeter defenders and will see plenty of time on the opposition’s best guards and wings. With so much attention on the James and the young players, Caldwell-Pope has somewhat flown under the radar.
But he should still play a big role for the team this season and his ESPN NBArank reflects that.