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Frank Vogel says Alex Caruso has the same defensive instincts as Paul George

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The Lakers had their own Paul George all along.

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LA Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Finding a player comparison for Alex Caruso is an often hollow task because Caruso’s skillset is so unique. He’s technically a point guard, but he’s always going to be more valuable as the secondary ball-handler in a lineup; he can shoot the ball, but he’s usually the player teams are comfortable leaving open; and while Caruso is capable of being a starter, he typically comes off of the bench.

There is one player that came into Frank Vogel’s mind when he first saw Caruso play, though, and he plays just across the hall (via Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated):

“When I was watching our pickup games from last season as we built up to training camp, he was just all over the place with his defensive ability,” Vogel recalls. “His defensive instincts and athleticism really reminded me of when I used to coach Paul George. I started talking to my coaching staff like, Am I crazy with what I’m seeing here?

Vogel coached George for the first seven years of his career, and during that time, George made three All-Defensive teams, including the All-Defensive First Team in 2014. So, Vogel heaping that type of praise onto Caruso is no small thing.

Caruso hasn’t made an All-Defensive team yet, and it’s too soon to say whether or not he’ll do so this year, but he’s certainly established himself as one of the best defensive guards in the league over the last two years. In fact, this season, he has the best defensive rating (98.5) on the best defensive team in the NBA. Among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes per game over at least 20 games this season, Caruso ranks first in defensive rating.

Again, that won’t guarantee him a spot on an All-Defensive team, but he has a strong case.

And if he isn’t voted to an All-Defensive Team, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be too broken up about it. At the age 26, Caruso has an NBA championship and this summer, he’s expected to cash in on a bigger deal than the two-year, $5.5 million deal he signed in 2019.

He’s no Paul George, but he’s doing alright for himself.

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