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Film Breakdown: The key skill Alex Caruso has improved while LeBron James is out

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How Alex Caruso has improved as a pick and roll playmaker in LeBron’s absence.

Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 121-113 in front of almost two thousand fans. Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG

When LeBron James went down with a “high ankle sprain” vs. the Atlanta Hawks and was ruled out indefinitely, the Lakers became seriously devoid of on ball playmakers, with only Dennis Schröder fitting the bill and Marc Gasol missing time due to COVID19 protocols, building fitness, and then making way for Andre Drummond to get some much needed time to adjust to his new teammates.

But with all that going on, the Lakers needed someone else to step into those creator shoes, or as Chad Kroeger of Nickelback put it on the song “Hero”:

“They said a hero will save us”

And Alex Caruso has been that hero, specifically as an on-the-ball playmaker in the pick and roll, and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has noticed.

“Definitely some improvement, definitely more under control, and the added responsibility of being a playmaker has been great for his growth,” Vogel said over the weekend. “He’s definitely coming off and being more efficient, more under control, playing through his pivots more, and we’ve definitely seen some growth there.”

In the following video, I dissected the data and tape to illustrate the ongoing growth and development Vogel is referencing:

This skillset could come in handy in the playoffs as teams start keying in on the star players and the team needs someone to assume that role for spot duties. If that happens, Caruso may get to be the Lakers’ hero once again.

Dr. Rajpal Brar has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for 1.5 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), and analyzes the Lakers from a medical and skills perspective for Silver Screen and Roll and on his own YouTube Channel.