Alex Caruso is an NBA player. He’s proved that much since he started getting regular playing time with the Los Angeles Lakers last month.
In 14 consecutive appearances for Los Angeles in March, Caruso averaged 9.8 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field, including 48.5 percent shooting from behind the 3-point line. He also produced 3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game, all while posting a team-high box plus-minus of +4.1 while averaging 23 minutes per game.
On Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans, Caruso put up career-high 23 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 4 steals. According to Elias Sports, Caruso is the only player in Lakers history to record at least 23 points, 6 assists and 4 steals off the bench.
It goes without saying that Caruso had a great month, but he’s not ready to get comfortable just yet. Following the Lakers’ win over the Pelicans on Sunday, Caruso said that he’s not going to pat himself on the back for the way he’s played as of late (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“Satisfaction is an interesting word, because obviously this isn’t the epitome of what I want to do and where I want to be. New career high? That’s cool. Winning the game, that’s fun too. But for me it’s just progressing to get better, and for me that’s just what I’ve been trying to do for the last two years since I’ve been with the Lakers, and I think I’m continuing to do it. It’s just showing now because I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities.”
For Caruso, opportunity is all he wants, but the 25-year-old point guard told Kyle Goon of the OC Register that he’s hoping to have a full-time job in the NBA sooner rather than later:
“Every game for me is a job application,” he said. “It’s me going out there and showing this is where I’m supposed to be. I’m one of the best 350, 400 players in the world and I want to be in this league.”
After this season, Caruso will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Lakers can match any offer sheet for him this summer. While it’s unclear if the team has any interest in bringing him back, he has the support of his teammates, including Moe Wagner, who spent some time with Caruso in the G League with the South Bay Lakers this season:
“Where others would quit, he just plays hard. Everything that comes to him, he deserves. It’s a lot of fun to play with him because he’s such a great communicator and leader.”
Caruso might not be the biggest free agent point guard on the market this summer, but he’s a fierce competitor and a smart player who likely won’t come at a steep cost. For a team like the Lakers that is hoping to land an All-Star free agent, Caruso is the type of guy you want to fill out your roster with.
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