Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been a key complementary starter

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made his ninth straight start Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers’ 10-game win streak ended as the Mavericks won 114-100.

Caldwell-Pope didn’t score in double figures for a third straight game in the loss. But during the Lakers’ win streak, Caldwell-Pope shined.

During those 10 games, Caldwell-Pope made eight starts. In his eight starts, he scored 11.8 points per game on 54% shooting from the field, per Basketball Reference. 

Caldwell-Pope has showed he can be a key complementary starter recently. In the previous eight starts before Sunday, Caldwell-Pope shot 51.5% from the 3-point line. He scored seven points and went 1-of-2 from the 3-point line in Sunday’s loss.

While Caldwell-Pope is one of the Lakers’ best shooters, he is also a solid defender. He isn’t necessarily a lockdown defender, but he does well containing his opponents as best as possible.

In the video below, Caldwell-Pope struggled at first to get through Dwight Powell’s screen, but he recovered well and helped JaVale McGee force a bad pass from Luka Doncic.

Caldwell-Pope began the season on the bench, starting only one game in the Lakers’ first 11 contests. That was for good reason, though, as Caldwell-Pope didn’t show any sort of consistency.

He particularly wasn’t the threat he’s capable of being offensively, scoring 5.3 points per game in the Lakers’ first 11 games.

During those first 11 games, he posted three games where he didn’t make a shot from the field.

Now, though, as the Lakers lose their first game since Nov. 10, Caldwell-Pope has shown the Lakers are perhaps better off with him in the starting lineup.

During Caldwell-Pope’s previous eight starts, the Lakers shot an average of 40.5% from the 3-point line, well above their season average of 35.8%. During his eight starts over the 10-game win streak, Caldwell-Pope was the Lakers’ top 3-point shooter three times.

Caldwell-Pope’s role could end up being similar to the one J.R. Smith had with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the team’s 2016 title season. Smith shot 40.0% from the 3-point line during the regular season — it was the second-highest mark of his career from deep.

With the Lakers 20 games into the regular season, Caldwell-Pope is shooting a career-high 40.4% from the 3-point line.

Despite a slow start to the season, Caldwell-Pope has shown he will be integral for the Lakers’ future success.

The Lakers will play the Denver Nuggets on the road Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST.

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