Lakers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the contributor no one talks about

Lakers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Lakers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

He might not make the headlines every night, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s contribution to the Los Angeles Lakers in these playoffs has proven invaluable.

Many are the role players that stepped up for the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason and this is part of the reason for their success. Especially the bench made a huge leap from the regular season and became one of the best ones in the playoffs. Most notably, Rajon Rondo was a major shift in affecting games for LA, probably their most improved player.

But of all those who raised their impact in the most important moment of the year, no one ever talks about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He is been generally underappreciated by fans and analysts, becoming some kind of unsung hero of this playoff run.

With Avery Bradley opting to remain out of the ball and not taking part in the season’s resumption, Caldwell-Pope was promoted to the starting lineup. He had to play with a lineup he was not used to, trying to make up for Bradley’s absence, and he handled it wonderfully.

KCP has been somewhat of a disappointment since he signed with the Lakers two years ago, always delivering subpar seasons while making briefs spurts in the final games, convincing the Lakers to re-sign him on short-term deals.

It started the same awful way this year for him, but he managed to conduct himself through the struggle and bounce back along the season to become a solid contributor off the bench.

Since the playoffs started, he did not have a moment of hesitation. He fit in with the starting lineup helping LA navigate the first three rounds with just three losses. For the first time in his Lakers’ tenure he has been steady and reliable, a presence to count on. In 15 playoff games, he had a negative plus/minus just six times, three of which coinciding with Lakers’ losses.

Playing only his second playoffs of his career, with the first coming in 2016, Kentavious is averaging 9.9 points per game, shooting 42.1 percent from three.

Although his scoring average might not be spectacular, as a 3-and-D player his percentage is what most counts and what made his contribution fundamental. In fact, almost all of his attempts come from the arc. As a result, he is currently having a career-high 57.5 effective field-goal percentage.

The former Piston has also been probably the most reliable perimeter defender behind Alex Caruso, something the Lakers were missing in the starting lineup without Avery Bradley. He is a decisive part of that intense rotation Frank Vogel deployed on opposing playmakers through the playoffs, trying to limit the elite point guards of the NBA.

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Overall, KCP has revealed himself more reliable than heavily-paid Danny Green, and though his contribution has gone mostly unnoticed, his presence appears irreplaceable for the team, often getting clutch minutes and hitting key threes through Lakers’ runs.