On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers blew a fourth-quarter double-digit lead to a hobbled Golden State Warriors team. That led to a flurry of negative media and press for about a couple of days. Long story short, the loss was disappointing and the Lakers had to put that loss in their rearview mirror.
Up next on the schedule was a visit to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. One of the pre-season favorites to come out of the East. Last year, the reigning two-time MVP famously crowned himself after finishing with 34 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and more importantly, a victory against the Lakers in the first matchup between the two sides.
There was no crowning this time around, as the Lakers left Milwaukee with a 113-106 win, giving the Lakers the best record in the NBA once again. LeBron James led the way with 34 points, but it was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who saved the day with his shooting from beyond the arc. KCP finished with 23 points after going 7-for-10 from long range.
His timely shooting and excellent defensive play were on display and the Lakers could have not won the game without him. After playing a crucial role for the Lakers in their championship run last season, Caldwell-Pope continues to play lights out. After the game, Caldwell-Pope credited his play to his high level of confidence:
Going into the season, KCP said his confidence was “through the roof.” Today, after he hit seven 3-pointers, I asked him where that confidence stems from. Here’s what he had to say: pic.twitter.com/V7qVO5aFQ1
— Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) January 22, 2021
It wasn’t too long ago that Caldwell-Pope was at the receiving end of a lot of fan criticism. It was normal to login to Twitter and see Laker fans complaining about his inability to make shots, very similar to what Danny Green experienced in the playoffs.
While he struggled to start the 2019-20 season, that didn’t deter the former Georgia Bulldog and that was partly due to Frank Vogel’s confidence in him. According to Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll, Caldwell-Pope thanked Vogel last season for not giving up on him and that allowed his confidence to skyrocket:
One of the nicest moments from Frank's Lowe Post appearance over the summer was him mentioning that KCP (and Rondo) both thanked him for believing in them. It's clear there is a lot of mutual appreciation there.https://t.co/IrkiDJV18Q https://t.co/EqZmQCoURL
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 22, 2021
Social media can be very toxic, but as long as your head coach believes in you, then that’s all a player needs to turn it around. Not only did it lead to a championship for the Lakers, but a new contract for the veteran shooting guard.
Vogel also mentioned recently that he was very proud of KCP’s work ethic and dedication to the game. It’s not rocket science, with more playing time comes more confidence. In any professional sport, confidence is key and if Caldwell-Pope’s continues to play this way, his new contract will be at a bargain.