Outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso is probably the most popular player among Lakers fans going into next season and it’s not hard to understand why.
If Caruso wasn’t 6’5” and built like an NBA player, he could easily be mistaken for a substitute teacher or a manager at Applebee’s — but he’s not. In actuality, Caruso plays for one of the most storied franchises in all of sports and, if he plays his cards right, he could be the team’s starting point guard by opening night.
There’s a tongue-in-cheek feeling about Caruso’s life, and he sees it too. During a recent interview with Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report, Caruso said he thinks it’s funny that he — a caucasian male from Texas — wound up in the second-biggest market in the NBA:
He notes that nobody recognizes him around here, and that makes good sense. Caruso might be the most inconspicuous athlete in the NBA. He stands 6’5”, though it doesn’t feel that way; he’s thin at about 185 pounds; he’s balding; he wears a goatee that doesn’t fully connect; he basically looks like a guy off the street.
”I think I fit a market like San Antonio or Charlotte or Milwaukee, where it’s a little more low-key,” he says. “It’s just funny that this is where I am. It’s funny that it’s L.A.”
Caruso thinks it’s even funnier that, next season, he’ll be expected to compete for a championship with three NBA champions and a perennial All-Star who’s just a year older than him:
This summer, three years after going undrafted, he inked a two-year, $5.5 million contract to stay in Los Angeles. He knows how absurd it must look to the untrained NBA eye—he sees it too. “You think of the Lakers, it’s LeBron, Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, guys who are bona fide NBA players,” he says, in deep admiration. “And then there’s me.”
Basically, Caruso feels like he’s Lil’ Bow Wow in “Like Mike,” except Caruso looks more like Michael Cera than Michael Joran. But make no mistake: Caruso belongs in Los Angeles.
In four starts for the Lakers last season, Caruso averaged 17.8 points per game on 39.1 percent shooting from the field, including 40 percent from behind the arc. He also averaged 8.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game during that time.
Is that a small sample size? Yes.
Does that take away from the fact that he did this in a game?