After losing the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes to the LA Clippers, the Lakers bounced back in stellar fashion, adding Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Quinn Cook in free agency while retaining Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Alex Caruso, one of the few bright spots Los Angeles had towards the tail end of last season.
Caruso spent the last two years on a two-way contract with the Lakers and appeared in 62 games during that time. However, it wasn’t until just a few months ago that Caruso started to make an impact with the parent team.
Through the final 15 games of the season, Caruso averaged 13.1 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting from the field, including a blistering 47.7 percent from behind the 3-point line. He also contributed 4.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
It’s a relatively small sample size, but it’s one that he’ll get an opportunity to build on next season. During a recent interview with Richard Croome of Aggie Sports, the former Texas A&M guard said that he’s been told he’ll be able to compete for rotation minutes this upcoming season:
“I’ve been assured an opportunity to get minutes, and I think I complement this team very well, but obviously, nothing is given to you,” Caruso said. “It will be a fun test for me to see how I adjust to playing 82 games. I think I will still be going off of adrenaline.”
Caruso will face more experienced competition for minutes at the point guard position with Rajon Rondo and Quinn Cook on the roster, but if he continues to show a willingness to play both sides of the ball, he’ll have a leg up on both of them.
Cook might be the better shooter and one could argue Rondo is a more capable floor general, but Caruso’s combination of perimeter defense, shooting and off-ball instincts makes him an ideal fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Even if his shooting doesn’t carry over to next season, his ability to guard ones and twos makes him an invaluable asset to the team, especially if Avery Bradley doesn’t return to form.
If what Caruso heard is true, he’ll have every opportunity to prove himself next season, and hopefully he shows that he can play the way he played to close the season on a consistent basis.