The Alex Caruso game.
If you logged on to twitter at any point before the Lakers hit the hardwood to face off against the Kings, but after it was reported that Lonzo Ball would sit out due to a sore groin, you might have seen that thrown out there in part jest. I mean, Caruso is a fine player who showed some good ability playing for OKC’s G-League affiliate last year, but I think even his biggest believers wouldn’t have thought this was coming.
We ? you, @ACFresh21!
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) July 11, 2017
Okay, maybe some people did see this coming. Or at least thought it was possible. Friend of the site Ben Rosales wrote about Caruso in his summer league preview at Silver Screen & Roll and noted Caruso was a player worth watching in Vegas:
Likely the most interesting player on the Lakers’ summer league roster not drafted by the team or named Dozier, Caruso also probably has the strongest shot of being someone of interest to the parent team moving forward as a capable guard who can run an offense and defend ably. A fairly big combo guard, Caruso played on and off ball during his Texas A&M career and proved capable in both respects, averaging a 32.9 AST% at A&M (25.7 AST% in the D-League) while also improving to 40.1% from behind the arc on three attempts per game as a member of the OKC Blue.
Caruso showed strong feel for the game, a viable jump shot, and competed hard defensively. Late in the game, after David Nwaba executed some tremendous defense in the corner to force a tough pass, Caruso went after a 50/50 ball, couldn’t secure it himself but poked it away from the King who did, then chased down the loose ball and threw a perfect lob to a trailing Travis Wear for a dunk. Of the many highlights Caruso had, that one showed a lot of what he offered to a Lakers squad down most of their top line players.
In a way, Caruso’s game was similar to what Kyle Kuzma showed when Brandon Ingram had to miss time. When given the opportunity, Caruso stepped into the void and showed off a multi-faceted game not many knew he really possessed. Or, at least, one that I didn’t know he had. It’s those types of games that leave a lasting impression; the types of games that help you learn what a player can or can’t do.
I don’t know what Caruso’s future holds with the Lakers, but based on his history as a G-League performer and what he showed in those extended minutes vs. the Kings, I’d happily invite him to training camp and see where things go from there. At the very least, I’d want him for the South Bay Lakers and would strongly consider him for a 2-way contract if he was open to it.
Beyond that, though, I’ll just remember him for this random game against the Kings in summer league. It seriously did end up being the Alex Caruso game, even if that seemed like just a funny riff before the tip.