Latest Laker: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Heading into free agency, Lakers President Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka sought out defense and shooting.

Their first signing is a player that can do both, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope inked a deal with the club on Thursday.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound shooting guard comes to Los Angeles with a reputation as a bulldog defender who plays at maximum effort and is capable of guarding opponents well both on and off the ball.

Consistently ranking among the top of the NBA in minutes played, Caldwell-Pope has also been applauded for his physical conditioning that allows him to continue when others fatigue.

His defensive tenacity should make for an intriguing wing combination alongside small forward Brandon Ingram, who figures to make more of his 7-foot-3 wingspan after gaining a year of NBA experience.

On the other side of the ball, Caldwell-Pope led Detroit with 2.0 made 3-pointers per game on a 35.0 percent clip that hovered around league average.

The 24-year-old — who put up 13.8 points a night — also shot just 39.9 percent from the field, though some of that had to do with attempting nearly six triples per game.

While he developed a reputation as a hot-and-cold shooter, KCP displayed total confidence in his shot and was arguably the Pistons’ top perimeter threat (albeit on a bottom-three team in terms of 3-point percentage).

Detroit liked to use free him off of handoffs from its big men, as Caldwell-Pope averaged the NBA’s sixth-most points off such actions (2.2).

He also showed a solid pull-up jumper and the ability to knock down open looks.

In the passing department, the fourth-year pro displayed some development in his pick-and-roll decision-making, which helped him average a career-best 2.5 assists.

But perhaps most importantly when joining a team featuring Lonzo Ball, Caldwell-Pope was adept at running the floor in transition, scoring 2.8 fast-break points per game on a Pistons team that rarely pushed the pace.

The 2013 SEC Player of the Year also averaged 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals against only 1.6 fouls and 1.1 turnovers.

The Lakers hope that his 3 and D potential will be just what was needed for a team that lost both of its best 3-point shooters and ranked last in defensive efficiency.

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