The two-way contract Alex Caruso signed with the Lakers last season proved to be an equally as worthwhile investment for both sides. Los Angeles was a transitioning team looking to explore youthful options. Caruso fit right into that equation, and while various injuries limited rookie phenom Lonzo Ball to just 52 games, his fellow point guard was available to reap the benefits.
Caruso appeared in 37 games last season, an incredibly high number for a two-way player with a limited amount of days available to spend up in the NBA. The Lakers utilized such a roster tool rather perfectly, not only treating Caruso’s spot an extension of their team, but a true inclusion of it. Averaging 3.6 points on 43% shooting with 2 assists in 15.2 minutes, it’s safe to say Caruso obtained a good feel for what it means to be a backup point guard in the NBA.
On the flip side, he emerged as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate while suiting up for South Bay in the G League. He tallied 19 points on a 50/39/82 shooting clip with 7.7 assists and 2 steals while leading the young group to the postseason. It was there he learned what it meant to be a true floor general and parlayed that into a stint with Team USA earlier this summer.
Caruso is back with the Lakers for NBA Summer League and has seemingly carried over the same poise and leadership over with him to Las Vegas. He dished out 10 assists and was a +41 in the Lakers’ win over the Knicks on Tuesday night. He looks like he’s ready to handle more consistent minutes (albeit it, off the bench) in the NBA.
Given the moves by Los Angeles this offseason, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll receive that opportunity. Despite dealing with a torn meniscus at the moment, Ball is expected to be ready for training camp. LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, among others, would figure to also handle major ball handling duties and eat up key minutes. Is there room for Caruso? Better yet, will there be a need, as the Lakers expedite their process and gun for a title?
Caruso is now part of a contender, which could mean a smaller role and less action moving forward. Such a progression would be unfortunate because he’s earned the right to keep forging ahead.