While most of the attention surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers has been focused on the Anthony Davis trade and rightfully so, Alex Caruso is the one that has emerged as quite the fan favorite ahead of the 2019-20 NBA season.
Caruso is hardly a stranger to the team after signing with the Lakers on a two-year deal prior to the 2017-18 NBA season. He made his bones in the G League before establishing himself as a key bench player and was ultimately rewarded with a two-year, $5.5 million deal this offseason.
It is safe to say that Caruso has come a long way since starting his career as an undrafted free agent. Despite all of the glamour that comes with playing in a city like Los Angeles, he attributes his success both on and off the court to his blue-collar work ethic.
According to Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report, Caruso feels fans have resonated with his relatable approach:
“I’m not Hollywood,” Caruso says, seated for lunch in Manhattan Beach, wearing workout clothes and a trucker hat. He lives down the street and picked this neighborhood because “it’s the opposite of L.A: quiet, easygoing.”
Caruso added that he is still processing being a part of the Lakers himself:
“I think it’s the way I play—every game I go out there and play as hard as I can, and I think people appreciate that,” he says. “Then it’s the fact I look like I could be a common person walking on the street. They all want to hold onto like, ‘Hey, that’s one of us out there doing it,’ which is funny because I feel like I’m a normal person. I walk around and I don’t feel like I’m 6’5″, I don’t feel like I’m this guy that plays for the Lakers. But it’s the reality of it.”
Caruso’s comments are certainly understandable considering all that he has had to overcome to keep his NBA dream alive. He is now in the midst of enjoying the fruits of his labor as a potential key piece on a Lakers team that is expected to compete for a championship this season.
Although most fans may see a piece of themselves in Caruso, that perception quickly changes once he takes the court. He will now have an opportunity to etch out an integral role for himself in a backcourt that seemingly still has yet to establish a pecking order. At the very least, Caruso will be relied upon to provide some quality depth off the bench.