Despite his lack of experience, Alex Caruso proved to Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and the rest of the league that he belonged in the NBA.
Caruso went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and spent time in the G League. He later caught on with the Lakers after a successful Summer League stint and eventually landed a two-way contract.
The point guard showed flashes in his limited playing time and signed a two-year contract prior to the 2019-20 season. He exceeded expectations and became a pivotal part of the rotation, often times closing out games due to his defensive acumen.
In an appearance on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, Caruso detailed how he can further elevate his game:
“It’s offensively, but I think playing in the playoffs helped me take a step forward offensively. A lot of offense is just being ready and presenting yourself and being aggressive when the opportunities are there.
“That was a big struggle for me because I was so worried trying to play perfect and not make mistakes because when you’re on two-way and get thrown into the game for a six-minute stretch your guy better not score and two, if you’re on offense you better not make a mistake.”
Caruso is a good straight-line driver and ball mover, but his shooting off the bounce and from distance leaves something to be desired. However, he does have a knack for cutting into open space and relocating to make himself open.
During the playoffs, Caruso seemed more confident and aggressive looking to score and the Lakers were better off for it. Rajon Rondo missed the first round due to injury, and Caruso acknowledged that the guaranteed playing time likely affected his mindset on offense.
Caruso is legitimately one of the best defenders in the league, so any improvements on the offensive end only add to his utility on the floor. Los Angeles is favored to repeat, and the guard will definitely have a larger role heading into next season.
Caruso’s potential expanded role
The Lakers may need to lean on Caruso more during the 2020-21 season because of the quick turnaround from the Finals. Vogel could look to rest LeBron James and Anthony Davis, opening up more minutes for Caruso.
Rondo’s murky future in L.A. could also organically push Caruso into extended playing time as he is currently the only other backup point guard on the roster.
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