The script over the last two wins for the Los Angeles Lakers has been pretty simple: Trudge through the first half, then Alex Caruso plays in the second half and they take off. At some point, one might think that Frank Vogel would notice the trend (albeit through two games) and make that adjustment earlier, but alas. We can’t have nice things.
Caruso was asked what he’s thought about how much he’s playing, while he’d obviously like to play more, he recognizes that Vogel is the person with the final say on the matter (via Kyle Goon of The OC Register):
Caruso said he thinks he’s done enough to get more regular time: “Yeah, I think so, but at the end of the day we’re winning games. It’s kind of working, and if coach adjusts, he adjusts. But if not, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
This is obviously the right thing to say here. The last thing a player vying to prove himself to a coach should be doing is showing up the coach, no matter how frustratingly clear it is that the team is better with him on the court. What he’ll have to do — and he acknowledges this — is make statements with his play.
Vogel’s job isn’t as simple as “play the best players,” either — as infuriating as it might be to point that out. There are important voices he has to listen to. It isn’t just Vogel who Caruso needs to convince on his playing time. LeBron James has a huge stake in this season, and an unproven, un-drafted, third-year guard isn’t the type of guy he’d normally trust over a veteran like, say, Rajon Rondo.
Caruso proving himself is going to be a process. Thus far, he’s done a good job in planting the thought of him playing a key role on this team in the minds of the people who make these decisions. So long as he says the right things and produces on the court, he and fans should get their wish at some point.