When Alex Caruso first started getting playing time for the Los Angeles Lakers, he seemed like a novelty. Not many thought that he would have a role on the team if they were actually good. However, he’s quickly become one of the greatest success stories in the league.
Caruso went from undrafted rookie to starting the closeout game of the NBA Finals and has quickly become one of the better defensive players in the league. The Lakers were lucky to find him but they almost never got the chance.
“After I got undrafted, I played my first Summer League with the 76ers,” Caruso said on JJ Reddick’s Podcast. “So they had Ben [Simmons], TJ McConnell, and me as the point guards so I didn’t really play much. When I did play, I didn’t play very well.
“After that happened, I went like a week span where I was talking to my agent and trying to figure out where I was going to go. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you there was a lot of disappointment when I was thinking about going to play overseas. I thought I was going to play in Poland, Germany.”
Caruso eventually the Oklahoma City Thunder brought him in and he landed a spot on their G League team. He made his way to the Lakers and now he’s one of their most impressive young players.
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Caruso Reveals Why People Get Stuck in G League
Caruso’s success is not something that has been replicated by a lot of players. Typically, players who get their start in the G League don’t end up having much of an NBA career. Caruso believes he knows why.
“That’s a big reason that guys get stuck in the G League is that they don’t understand the position they are trying out for,” he said. “It’s like going to a job interview and thinking you’re gonna be the CFO of the company and they’re looking for a guy to clean the bathrooms … Guys in the G League try to average 25 points a game. They’ve got guys they’re paying $30 million a year to score 25 points a game. It’s a self-awareness of understanding what you’re good at and what teams need and trying to do that.”
Caruso is a selfless player and that’s why he did so well with a Lakers team that had two superstars at the top. He’s never going to be a guy that averages 20 points a game but he’s an excellent defender who is capable of making some big buckets. He should be an important part of this team for the next several years.
Caruso Had ‘Anxiety’ in the Bubble
This year was Caruso’s first NBA playoff experience and there was nothing orthodox about it. The team had to go to a bubble after an extended delay. Caruso opened up about the experience.
“After we won the first game against the Clippers in the bubble, I think the human nature of, ‘Alright, we locked up the No. 1 seed, we’re going to rest some guys, we’re going to make sure we’re all healthy going in.’ But for me, I’m a play every game, play every minute the same way kind of guy. For me, on the inside, I was having some anxiety,” Caruso said.
Fortunately, LeBron James was there to help guide him through it.
“Then I was like, ‘I’m not going to bet against the No. 23 on my team to be ready to go.’ There was a little bit — on my part, at least — a little hesitation like, ‘Are we going to be ready to play?’