Alex Caruso has made a meteoric rise to since signing with the Los Angeles Lakers as an undrafted free agent in 2017.
Over the last two years, the Texas A&M product has become one of the team’s defensive specialists, doing the dirty work that stats do not often reflect. Caruso developed a particularly strong rapport with four-time NBA champion LeBron James, creating a duo known for featuring high in plus-minus stat boxes.
“A.C. is whatever we need,” his partner in crime, James, said. “A.C. is kind of a Swiss Army knife, to be honest. If you need scissors, a wine opener, a fingernail clipper, a knife, he’s all of that in one. He can do it all.”
James added Caruso plays “championship basketball” alluding to his versatility, decision-making, and outstanding defense. “He just helps our ballclub in so many different ways,” he said.
“He can bring the ball up and play the point, he can play off the ball, he’s shooting deadeye from 3 this year and he defends at a high level. And he doesn’t make many mistakes. You always can live with that. You can live with a guy on the floor like that.”
It has almost become a universal truth that L.A. plays better when the versatile guard is on the floor. It particularly transpired in the Orlando bubble when Caruso stepped up in the wake of Avery Bradley’s absence last year.
But he surprised again this season emerging as a lethal sharpshooter over the first month of the 2020-21 campaign. While not qualified to be officially rank as such, Caruso is making a league-best 54.3% of his shots from downtown.
It’s a marked improvement on the 33.3% he recorded last season and his 38.9% career average.
Caruso enters free agency in 2021
Caruso’s continuous improvement could turn out to be a double-edged sword for the Lakers. The guard will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the current season and, turning 27 in February, enter the prime years of his career.
While the Lakers are hard-capped this year, Caruso will certainly attract many suitors ready to offer him a significant upgrade on his $2.75-million contract.
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