Even though the Los Angeles Lakers were out of playoff contention at the end of the 2018-19 NBA season, fans still found some things to get excited about.
Chief among them was the emergence of Alex Caruso into a seemingly legitimate NBA rotation point guard.
After two seasons under a two-way deal, Caruso was rewarded with a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Lakers and will have the opportunity to earn minutes on a team with championship aspirations. But none of this would have been possible if Caruso wasn’t given the minutes down the stretch and he is thankful for that.
Caruso recently spoke with Richard Croome of Aggie Sports, noting that injuries among other things contributed to him getting a chance he may not have otherwise gotten:
“Yes, 100 percent, if Lonzo [Ball] and [Brandon] Ingram weren’t injured a couple of things wouldn’t have gone my way,” Caruso said. “If Luke Walton was not my coach, [I might not have got the opportunity]. I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason.”
Without a doubt, the injuries contributed as did the fact the Lakers were no longer pushing for the 2019 NBA playoffs, allowing them to rest healthy players. Even still, a player must take advantage of that opportunity and Caruso did just that.
Caruso didn’t just excite crowds with highlight-reel dunks, but he played extremely well overall down the stretch. Over the final five games of the season, Caruso averaged 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 8.4 assists while knocking down 43.8% from the three-point line.
“With LeBron James and Anthony Davis, you are going to have a good shot to win,” Caruso said. “If you’re not rebuilding, the goal is to win a championship.”
Caruso is undoubtedly a popular player and he earned that with his play down the stretch, but questions still remain. The games in which Caruso shined were relatively meaningless and it is still unknown whether Caruso can contribute consistently for an entire season.
Regardless, Caruso has fought to have this chance and if he takes advantage of it like he did last season, he could give the Lakers a boost in his third season.