One of the bigger stories from the early portion of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season was the struggles of shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The third-year Laker was shooting poorly from behind the arc and it seemed to affect his decision-making on the court as his confidence wavered.
Fortunately, something eventually clicked and Caldwell-Pope has turned it around to the point of being one of the team’s more valuable role players alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The shooting guard credits head coach Frank Vogel’s continued belief in him as the reason behind his improvement, as he told ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz:
“To know through my struggles ‘My coach still believes in me’ does a lot for your mindset,” Caldwell-Pope says. “Now I’m not thinking about that. I can go get my work in and start producing.”
Vogel also explained why he never cut KCP’s minutes when he was struggling with his shot:
“My belief started in how hard [Caldwell-Pope] plays,” Vogel says. “When you compete that hard and you’re contributing to winning, whether you’re making shots or not, you’ve earned that belief.”
That belief from his coach, and frankly his teammates, has paid dividends in a huge way as Caldwell-Pope is now up to 42.8 percent shooting from deep on 3.4 attempts a game, the team’s most reliable shooter thus far while continuing to play hard-nosed defense. He is playing over 25 minutes per game off the bench for a 33-8 team and you could make the argument that he’s been the team’s third best player.
This has been a staple of Vogel’s tenure so far. He has not alienated any players and has shown belief in their abilities, even for those who are out of the rotation. Perhaps that’s why Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels have recently had huge games in replacing an injured Rajon Rondo.
Everything is rosy in Lakers Land right now and Vogel’s leadership is arguably the most significant factor causing that success and atmosphere.