When Anthony Davis returns from injury, he and Andre Drummond are expected to form one of the most formidable defensive front courts in the NBA. Until then, Drummond thinks he can cause problems on the defensive end with another one of this Lakers teammates: Alex Caruso.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Drummond said after the Lakers’ win over the Hornets on Wednesday. “Alex is a great player on both ends of the court. His plus-minus say it. I mean, there’s not much more to say. When he’s on the floor, big things happen. I love having him as a teammate, when we’re on the floor together defensively, it’s a scary thing.”
Caruso wasn’t the highest-scoring player for the Lakers on Wednesday, but he was undoubtedly the star performer and it was because of his defense.
In the 24 minutes Caruso played on Wednesday, the Lakers posted a defensive rating of 89.8. With Caruso off of the floor, their defensive rating plummeted to 111.4. That -21.6 point differential was the best among his teammates. Caruso also has the highest defensive rating of anyone on the team that has played at least 100 minutes this season.
It’s not just the Lakers that Caruso is leading defensively, though. Among players that have logged at least 500 minutes this season, Caruso is tied for second in defensive rating (109) with Mike Conley. He’s an elite defender, and that’s been true since he joined the team on a full-time basis in 2019.
Drummond’s defensive numbers aren’t as impressive as Caruso’s, but his ability to fight for rebounds and be disruptive in passing lanes with his quick hands makes him an intriguing fit alongside Caruso. Add Anthony Davis to the mix, and “scary” may be underselling the potential of the Lakers on defense.