Alex Caruso is not your father’s grit guy

Alex Caruso
Apr 4, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee (1) defends Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) as he moves to the basket in the second half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Caruso, for obvious reasons, is one of the NBA players that gets tagged with the same old tropes. He’s scrappy. He does all the little things. He’s like a coach’s son. All of these apply to the two-way guy, but if you watch him closely, there’s more to his game than these titles.

Caruso won over Lakers fans long before he started getting big minutes after leaving the G-League a few weeks ago. It all started in the 2017 Summer League when Lonzo Ball was sidelined with an injury. In a game that was supposed to match Ball with draft-mate De’Aaron Fox, Caruso stepped up to put on a show.

Alex Caruso would dunk on your granny if she tried to defend the rim. It is no secret or anything sneaky about his athleticism. Caruso’s athleticism is banging us in the head. Every loose ball belongs to Caruso if he’s near it. He leads the league in floor burns.

Overall, Caruso is averaging nine points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists in his 24 games with the Lakers so far this season. Since being inserted into the rotation, those numbers have jumped to 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 18 contests, including a blistering 48.9 percent from 3-point land.

It’s never come easy to Caruso and that’s the thing that lights his fire. He was undrafted after spending four seasons at Texas A&M. As an Aggie, he made a reputation as a playmaker and a defender. He left with an all-time university leading 649 assists and 276 steals. Caruso has bounced from the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League team before signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder and spent time with their G-League affiliate.

Luckily for the Lakers, Caruso caught their eye and has made it his final stop. This season marks the end of his two-way deal with the team. Caruso’s steady play has made himself a priority in free agency plans. Luckily, the Lakers can be flexible in their offer and it shouldn’t eat into their cap space to retain his services. Caruso’s minutes will take a hit once Ball and the rest of the walking wounded return but he should have a role on an improved Lakers team next season.

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