Alex Caruso: Lakers Defeating Title Contenders Boosted Confidence
Alex Caruso, Lakers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2020 season there was a lot of pressure on Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso, who had signed his first real NBA contract.

While he was an internet legend already, many wondered whether Caruso could contribute to a team with championship aspirations for the entirety of an NBA season. Caruso undoubtedly rose to the challenge, becoming an important piece of the Lakers’ rotation and playing a big role on the road to an NBA championship while also forging an outstanding chemistry with LeBron James.

Though the Lakers were viewed by some as one of the title favorites at the outset of the season, few had them at the top of the list and many others had their doubts as well. But inside the Lakers locker room there was never any questions about their about their ability to make a run.

Caruso appeared on “The Old Man and the Three podcast” with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter and said that the Lakers always felt they were capable of being champions even at the beginning of the season:

“We always kind of thought we did, even from the beginning of the year. I think we went on a 10-game winning streak and then like a seven- or eight-game winning streak once or twice. We had an idea we were a good team, but I think once we started beating the other good teams, that’s when we kind of knew.”

Following their opening night loss, the Lakers would win 24 of the next 26 games including a 10 straight and a pair of seven-game winning streaks. But Caruso did add that winning those games against the other title favorites is what really cemented their belief in themselves:

“You can show up and play well against Phoenix at home and everybody is going to be like, ‘OK.’ They expect you to win that game. The games everybody wants to see are the Clippers-Lakers, the Bucks. Any time we played those teams, I could tell we got better from the first time we played both of them.”

The Lakers’ back-to-back wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers just before the league shut down put the basketball world on notice that they were to be taken serious as true championship contenders.

Of course, the Lakers didn’t get the opportunity to face either in the playoffs as both were upset before those matchups could happen. But the Lakers defeated the teams placed in front of them and they did that all the way to a title.

Rob Pelinka praises Caruso for player he’s become

That championship would not have been possible if not for the contributions that Caruso gave the Lakers as a versatile guard and outstanding team defender. He was a big part of the roster and Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka had a ton of praise for him.

Pelinka spoke about all of the hard work Caruso put in to become the player he is today and how much the Lakers embraced him. For as huge as he is with fans, Caruso was just as embraced by his teammates as well.

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