Los Angeles Lakers: 3 trends from the scrimmage games

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s defense

The Los Angeles Lakers’ overall perimeter defense looked awful during their three scrimmage games. In the first game against the Dallas Mavericks, Seth Curry shot 100 percent from the field, and Luka Doncic converted on 62 percent of his attempts.

In the second scrimmage, it was more of the same against the Orlando Magic. D.J. Augustin scored 21 points, and Michael Carter-Williams notched 15 total points for the game. In the Lakers’ third and final scrimmage, the trend continued. The Washington Wizards guards scored easily against the Lakers.

Danny Green looked slow on defense throughout the Lakers’ practice contests. He halfheartedly stuck his man on the perimeter, and he quarterheartedly closed out on jump shooters from beyond the arc.

Green’s indifference was expected. He’s firmly entrenched as the Lakers starting point guard, and he played excellent defense for the Toronto Raptors last year as they marched toward a title. Danny Green has nothing to prove during a few scrimmages.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a different story—he had everything to prove during the Lakers’ three scrimmage games. KCP is a scandalously lousy defender.

Most of the advanced stats paint Caldwell-Pope as one of the worst defenders on the Lakers, a zombielike player who stumbles around the court with an odd scowl draped across his face. Furthermore, Frank Vogel hasn’t officially announced that the former Piston will be the Lakers’ new starting point guard.

Despite the many motivating factors that should have pushed KCP’s defense up a notch from awful to decent, he continued to struggle. It doesn’t appear that KCP was dogging it like Danny Green was either. Instead, Caldwell-Pope routinely got lost on the perimeter and was bullied by larger players on the block.

Unfortunately, he had an even more significant weakness on defense; KCP struggles guarding the pick and roll.

It doesn’t matter if the Los Angeles Lakers play a drop back defense or a switch defense against the pick and roll, KCP flounders in both situations.

During drop back sets, the Lakers big “drops back” toward the lane to prevent the opposing guard from driving to the rim, so KCP must harass the ball handler into shooting a midrange shot. Sadly, Kentavious is too short to stop opposing guards from launching three-pointers.

When the Lakers switch on the pick and roll, KCP then finds himself guarding a much bigger player, and he almost always allows the stronger player a smooth path towards the rim.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has shown throughout his Lakers career that he’s a subpar defender. Still, it seems like Frank Vogel is going to doggedly depend on him to lock down opposing point guards from the get-go instead of turning to the better defender, Alex Caruso. That’s a problem.

The Lakers are going to miss Avery Bradley‘s energy and pressure on defense. Bradley was a master at harassing opposing point guards and helping the Lakers muck up opposing squads game plans on offense. He was also one of the best point guards in the league at defending the pick and roll.