The Los Angeles Lakers will look to take a 3-0 series lead against the Denver Nuggets tonight in the Western Conference Finals, a deficit that has yet to be overcome in NBA Playoff history. The current 2-0 series lead can almost all be attributed to the Lakers’ superstar that they received only a little over a year ago, Anthony Davis. He had 37 points in Game 1 and 31 points in Game 2, including the already-iconic buzzer-beating game-winner in Game 2. The 2nd most impactful part of the Lakers might not be an individual, persay, but instead it may be their team defense. That defense has been heavily influenced all year by a certain bald GOAT, no, not LeBron James. Instead, I’m talking about Alex Caruso.
Caruso has been a great defender for his entire short career with the Lakers, but he has really shown his defensive impact this year standing alongside large rim-defenders in Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard. He has an almost natural ability as a sort of football free safety on the basketball court, able to sniff about passes that you wouldn’t even imagine he’d be able to get to. LeBron spoke about this and more after Game 2, giving glowing compliments to Caruso’s game (reported by Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll):
When you try to play high-level basketball, you’ve got to have high-IQ players, and he’s one of them. And not only does he have a high-level IQ, he also plays with high energy, and we know what we’re going to get out of him every night. It’s not about him making shots. But we know he’s going to defend and he’s going to play at the level that he’s capable of playing at. We all know that once he checks into the game every single night, so we know what to expect out of him. And to be honest, when he makes shots it’s extra credit for us, but he puts that work in on his offensive skill set to get better and better, and we love everything about him.
Rajon Rondo also praised Caruso’s high-IQ, an immense compliment coming from a player who is known throughout the league for his basketball IQ.
Rajon Rondo is also a huge fan of what Alex Caruso brings to the Lakers: pic.twitter.com/K28W0ptFyp
— Playoff Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 21, 2020
At this point, Alex Caruso is probably one of the best role players in the NBA. If not that, he’s definitely one of the best defensive role players in the NBA. He is showing that right now on the NBA’s biggest stage, a stage where role players can shine as bright as the stars.