Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a rough go at it to start the season. Fresh off of signing his third contract in three years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Caldwell-Pope shot 36% from the field in his first 10 games, including 23.8% from behind the arc.
Had Caldwell-Pope been more consistent in his first two seasons with the Lakers, perhaps the uproar from the fanbase wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, but at the time there were plenty reasons to be frustrated with KCP’s shooting.
Despite this, his teammates stuck by his side and even defended from him fans on social media (and in the media) at various points, and during an interview with Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Caldwell-Pope expresses his gratitude for the support he got in the locker room while he was going through a tough stretch:
“I’ve got real brothers in the locker room,” Caldwell-Pope said. “They helped me get through it. Even though it was a lot on myself, they helped me get through it. I have a bunch of guys who have been through that, especially that No. 1 guy has been through that — LeBron (James) has been through criticism his whole career. So he talked to me a little bit. ‘There’s nothing to worry about. Just play.’”
That support apparently went a long way, because Caldwell-Pope is one of the most efficient shooters on the Lakers as of 22 games into the season, shooting 39.1% from 3-point range on 2.9 attempts per game.
And while it was nice to see the Lakers rally around Caldwell-Pope during his cold streak, LeBron James said that it’s just part of the job:
“He’s been phenomenal. At the end of the day we stay even-keeled. All of us. If one of our brothers are going through a difficult time we pick him up, and we let him know we’re right there in the fox hole with him. And that’s what we were telling KCP earlier on when he was struggling with his shot, struggling with his play. ‘Listen, we’re right here in this foxhole with you. Your time will come, just continue to put in the work and continue to trust your habits.’ And obviously those rumblings have quieted down quite a bit.”
For the Lakers, this is a good sign of the camaraderie in the locker room that will help them get through the rough parts of the season, assuming they come. They haven’t yet.
And for Lakers fans, it’s maybe an indicator that players occasionally just need some time to figure things out. That’s not to say Caldwell-Pope’s shooting can’t regress to what it was, but until then, he’s earned more than what he was shown to start the season.