After an electric finish to the 2018-19 season as a two-way player, the Lakers decided to bring fan-favorite Alex Caruso onboard to the tune of a two-year, $5.5 million deal. With Rajon Rondo and Quinn Cook also looking to soak up minutes at the point, there seems to be a fairly wide-open race heading into training camp for which player winds up opening the season as the starter.
Can Alex Caruso Crack the Lakers’ Starting Lineup?
Caruso finished last season on a tear, posting insane averages of 17.2 points, 8.4 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. With a number of highlight-reel dunks to his name as well, Caruso showed off his deceptively excellent athleticism as well as a strong shot from deep and a willingness to make the right pass.
Rajon Rondo is by far the most experienced point guard on the roster and likely comes into camp as the frontrunner to land the starting job. Despite being the likely frontrunner, Rondo’s play – or at least his advanced stats – have been in a steady state of decline over the past few seasons. He still functions as a quasi-coach on the court and is adept at calling out plays before they happen, yet has graded out as one of the worst defenders at the position. While he should work fine in the starting lineup, he might be an even better fit on the second unit where his playmaking skills should help unlock the most from the heaps of shooters coming off the Lakers bench.
Quinn Cook is also on the roster and looks to be a strong fit playing alongside the starting unit for the Lakers. One of the league’s premier catch and shoot specialists, Cook looks to be nearly an ideal off-ball point guard to share the court with LeBron James. The biggest knock on Cook is his ability to contribute quality defensive minutes. He can undoubtedly shoot the cover off the ball, however, he might be best suited for a shooting specialist role off the bench rather than seeing heavy starting minutes.
That leaves Alex Caruso. Despite his limited NBA experience, Caruso seems to check all of the boxes that the Lakers are looking for in a starting point guard. A tenacious defender, strong shooter, and willing passer who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective, Caruso also shares natural on-court chemistry with LeBron. While his lack of experience may keep him from starting to open the season, shaky play from either Rondo or Cook should open the door for Caruso to have a very real chance to land a starting spot.
Alex Caruso Thinks Lakers Could be ‘Really Good’ on Defense
With the addition of Anthony Davis to the starting lineup as well as former three-time defensive player of the year, Dwight Howard, coming off the bench, the Lakers added some serious rim protection this offseason. Coupled with additions like Danny Green and Avery Bradley patrolling the perimeter and the Lakers have what looks to be one of the better defensive rosters – at least on paper.
The Lakers looked to have a quality defensive team at times last season, though injuries and trade drama never let them reach their fullest potential. Under respected defensive mind Frank Vogel, the Lakers have the necessary pieces in place to far exceed their showing from 2018-2019.