Los Angeles Lakers: 3 players stepping up with Brandon Ingram out

(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The next Laker has been heavily involved in trade talk in recent days. L.A. is searching for an experienced wing, such as Trevor Ariza, and shedding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s $12 million contract is needed to make room for Ariza. The latest developments state any deal is far from complete if happening at all, per The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, but KCP has done a great job of quieting the noise and upping his game.

Caldwell-Pope is averaging 8.6 points per game, shooting 34.9 percent on 4.0 3-point attempts per game in 21.5 minutes for the whole season. Over the last three games, KCP is third on the Lakers in scoring with 13.0 points in 24.0 minutes per game. He’s also connected on 42.9 percent of his 7.0 3-point attempts per game.

He’s a completely different player than Brandon Ingram, but his increase in 3-point attempts and ability to space the floor is a better fit next to LeBron James. It also doesn’t hurt he gets open shots playing next to LeBron and other floor-spacers occupying more attention.

KCP may not finish the season with the Lakers, but there’s little doubt he is slowly carving out a role in this rotation and earning the trust of LeBron and the coaching staff. He remains a high energy player with a strong motor on the defensive side of the floor. If his shooting numbers can hover around last year’s career high and this shooting streak is no fluke, holding onto KCP won’t be the worst thing, especially since he’s out of a contract at the end of the season.