Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope breaking out offensively after taking backseat to start season – Orange County Register

EL SEGUNDO — The Lakers’ decision to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over the summer hinged on the organization’s belief that he could be a mentor to their stable of young players.

That’s among the many responsibilities the fifth-year veteran has taken on early in his Lakers tenure, despite those players’ reluctance to seek out help.

“All the young guys are shy,” Caldwell-Pope said, “so I just try to be that leader and go to them, not wait for them to come to me.”

The punch line here is that Caldwell-Pope hardly reads as an outgoing locker room presence. He speaks softly, with a gentle Georgia cadence.

On the floor, however, he has recently emerged as one of the Lakers’ most confident figures, attempting 32 3-pointers over his last four games. It’s a stretch that registers as one of the most productive of his career. He has scored better than 20 points in four straight games, a career high, including a 29-point outburst against the Clippers on Monday.

Early in the season, Caldwell-Pope’s game matched his quiet demeanor. He chipped in when necessary, but hardly asserted himself. It turns out, that was by design.

“I had asked him to kind of tone down on some of the shots,” Coach Luke Walton said. “As far as being one of the vets on the court, to help show how we want to play, and that means getting in the lane and making extra passes.”

It all comes back to “playing the right way,” a constant refrain from Walton and the Lakers’ coaches.

“That’s all I was trying to do,” Caldwell-Pope said. “Get my teammates involved more, try to get the ball moving, try to make that contagious for everybody else and passing up the open shots when I had open shots.”

As the rest of the Lakers have grown more comfortable in the system, however, Walton has loosened some of the restrictions on his starting shooting guard.

“I think a lot of his focus was on what we were asking him,” Walton said. “That was our defense, that was our rebounding, that was being an example by sacrificing your own open shots to get other guys shots. And a lot of times those weren’t coming back to him like they’re supposed to when you play that way.”

Twenty-one games into the season, it finally is.

There are many ways to spend $18 million, but the Lakers chose to use it last summer on Caldwell-Pope, an athletic wing who was angling for a maximum deal from the Detroit Pistons but settled for a one-year audition with the Lakers instead.

His 14.6…

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