The Makings of a Breakout Season: Defining Alex Caruso

Who is Alex Caruso?
ILLINOIS, USA - JANUARY 26: Alex Caruso (4) of Los Angeles Lakers in action during an NBA game between Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers at United Center on January 26, 2018 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Following the Los Angeles Lakers blockbuster trade sending away the captivating young core, an opportunity has opened. The point guard position is thin in numbers this season, and Laker fan favorite, Alex Caruso, could see quality minutes.

Path To The Hype: Defining Alex Caruso

To begin with, the Lakers put out a Caruso highlight video this summer that went viral on Twitter — garnering attention from teammates such as LeBron James.

The undrafted point guard entered the league in 2016, joining the Philadelphia 76ers summer league team. Signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder on September 23rd, 2016, but was later waived on October 17th, spending the rest of the 2016-2017 season in the NBA Developmental League with the Oklahoma City Blue.

Caruso didn’t find himself in Los Angeles until the summer of 2017, replacing an injured Lonzo Ball. His performance landed him a two-way contract with the Lakers. After playing in 37 games, and starting in seven, Caruso signed another two-way contract for the 2018-2019 season with the Lakers.

What is drawing the Lakers fan base to Caruso is his late-season performance last year against the Los Angeles Clippers; scoring a career-high 32 points in a 122-117 victory. Joining Lebron James as the only Laker to record a 30+ point, 10+ rebound, and 5+ assist game last year. Rewarding Caruso on July 6th, 2019, with a two-year $5.5 million contract to return to the Lakers.

2018-2019 Season Review

This season will be remembered as one to forget as a Laker fan. There are some positive takeaways, and Caruso is at the top of the list. The Lakers endured an array of injuries after a promising start, consequently, ending the team’s playoff hopes before March. Although surrounded by trade rumors and front office turmoil, Caruso capitalized on this moment.

After the All-Star break, Caruso appeared in 20 games. While playing 25.6 minutes per game during this stretch, he averaged 11.2 points. He was also shooting an impressive 46.9 percent from deep yet finding a way to show off his deceptive athleticism.

Fans are having fun creating nicknames for the 25-year-old guard who may look like your everyday rec league player. Names such as; The Bald Mamba, The Insurance Salesman, The Bald Eagle, and The CaruShow. Standing out with relentless defense on the perimeter and the willingness to sacrifice his body to make winning plays. The small sample size of his Sophmore season left many impressed and excited for a future involving the crafty young guard.

2019-20 Season Opportunity

Following the 2019 NBA offseason, a rumor has emerged that James may play point guard at times this season. Head Coach Frank Vogel commented on the topic to Mike Trudell of, “He’ll be in that role some, and he’ll be in a role with a true point guard too.” The projected “true point guards” to be in the rotations are Rajon Rondo and Caruso.

In one of Trudell’s recent interviews with Coach Vogel, it seems he’s noticing a connection between Caruso and James. Expressing it with, “LeBron really likes playing with guys like Caruso” during this interview. Without a clear starting point guard going into this season, impressing coach Vogel and James is noteworthy.

Another critical component to this year’s hype is how Caruso helped beat the Clippers at the end of last season. The spotlight is on this split-city rivalry after Kawhi Leonard and Paul George becoming Clippers this off-season. Without a doubt, the Lakers are primed for their best chance at an NBA Finals run since a pre-Kobe Bryant Achilles injury. The door is open for Caruso to be a game-changer during this year’s NBA Finals run.

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