As a Lakers fan, we have come to love role players and learned the importance of having them. Players like Derek Fisher and Robert Horry. Fisher hit a game-winning shot with 0.4 seconds to give the Los Angeles Lakers the victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals with one of the most clutch shots I’ve ever seen. The experienced veteran Robert Horry hit a three off of a rebound tipped out to him in the final seconds of the playoffs to help the Lakers beat the Vlade Divac lead Kings.
Excluding Kobe of course, my favorite players have always been backups and role players; from players like Sasha Vujačić to Lamar Odom. This is still true as fan favorites Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma are those guys for me now. Before this year and the NBA Finals, Alex Caruso remained a relatively unknown player.
Many Lakers fans love him for his highlight dunks and defensive effort, but he also possesses the willingness to spread the ball and make the right pass. Not a highly touted player in high school or college, and was an undrafted player who worked his way into the NBA through summer league and two-way contracts. Caruso quickly became a fan favorite in the summer of 2017. Caruso helped guide the Lakers to a summer league championship and earned himself a two-way contract with the Lakers. Nearing the end 2018-19 NBA season, Caruso averaged 18.2 points, 8.0 assists, and 1.8 steals while shooting 55% from the three-point range. His performance to end the year earned him his first contract with the Lakers that wasn’t a two-way deal.
A willing role player who plays hard every play and leads by example. Caruso’s ability and willingness to pick up ball handlers full court, hold multiple positions, switch on defense, box out bigger players, catch and shoot, drive on defenders and bring the ball up or play off the ball gives the Lakers the versatility to run him with multiple player sets. Caruso is a player who gives the Lakers depth and versatility because he can play multiple positions and on both sides of the ball.
Caruso will not demand the same type of money other free agents will, and he is already a complete player who embraces being a role player. He has chemistry with his teammates and has the defensive mindset that Frank Vogel looks for in his guards. Caruso has continued to improve as a player and even earned a starting position in the last NBA Finals game which the Lakers won in a dominant performance. Look for Lakers to try to keep this guy around for a long time.