Alex Caruso first joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a relatively unheralded transaction, signing with the team’s Las Vegas Summer League roster as a little-known, 6-5, 183-pound former D-League guard originally hailing from College Station, Texas.
Caruso’s strong showing in the Summer League — in which he averaged 7.3 points and 3.8 assists while notably exploding for 18 points and nine assists while shooting 77.8 percent from the field and nailing four of his five 3-point attempts in Lonzo Ball’s stead against the Sacramento Kings — earned him the Lakers’ first two-way contract while the team was still in Las Vegas.
Two-way contracts don’t count against an NBA team’s full roster, and each team can have two players on them at a time per season. Players on two-way deals can only spend a maximum of 45 games with their NBA roster, after which they must be either sent back down to the G League for the rest of the season or signed to the parent roster on a pro-rated NBA contract for the rest of the season.
Caruso’s momentum carried him into training camp and the preseason. He averaged 3.7 points and 4.2 assists in 19.5 minutes per game during the six exhibition games he appeared in, playing well enough to earn the primary back-up role behind Ball going into the regular season.
Caruso’s aggressiveness and pass-first mentality enabled him to play a similar style of basketball to Ball, with the Lakers’ bench, allowing the team to maintain continuity when their reserve unit replaces or mixes with their starters.
Before joining the Lakers, Caruso played his first professional season for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s affiliate. Caruso averaged 11.9 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 50 games during his only season with the Blue before going on to get his NBA shot.
Prior to his time as a pro, Caruso played 137 games over four years at Texas A&M, where he posted career averages of eight points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists.