Alex Caruso, from anti-hero ridiculed in memes to astonish as “secret weapon” of the Los Angeles Lakers

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Some will say that he does not look like a basketball player. But by dint of his perseverance he gained the respect of many who made fun of him.

Except that I had a little more hair (not much more), Alex Caruso it is still the same as 10 or 12 years ago. The only difference, beyond what his head looks like, is that much of the world now sees him playing in the Los Angeles Lakers jersey and on his way to the NBA title. But at his core, he’s still that helpful gamer capable of becoming a secret weapon. A guy who, rather than earn it, forced respect earned.

If someone started to see the NBA in this time of little sports offer or even if it is added in these days of finals, it is possible that when seeing the arrival of the team or some warm-up they believe that Caruso is an auxiliary of the purple and gold franchise .

If they see him away from the parquet, they might even think that he is anything but a player in the best basketball league in the world. His car salesman appearance and sudden appearance on the scene a couple of years ago made for a crowd-pleasing 2.0 combo and made him something to be expected in these times: a meme awning.

But this sympathetic man traded those laughing feelings for awe and reverence.

“All summer I’ve been a meme,” he acknowledged shortly before the 2019/20 season began. He came from a season finale prior to all orchestra, with 18.2 points, 8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 55% accuracy in triples on average in the last six Lakers games, which had allowed him to win a contract by two years.

“I don’t know why they chose me as the guinea pig for that but I had a lot of fun, I have a great sense of humor. Every time something comes out they label me, my friends send it to me,” he added during the Media Day, when the first interviews of the season are done.

What’s more: coincidence or not, after a photo montage of Caruso was shared with a physique worthy of Captain America, the NBA called him to an anti-doping control …

In short, just at age 25 did the point guard gain a fixed place in an NBA roster. He was speaking, for the first time, from a stable player position that cost him years of hard work without ever giving up his human and sporting convictions.

In high school, Caruso came in just last place in the chain’s top 100 analysts ESPN. They looked for him from various universities but he, with a sense of belonging, chose the one closest to his family: Texas A&M, where his sisters also studied and where his father worked.

Unlike the big stars, who spend only one year in college (and “bound” by draft eligibility rules), Alex went through his four years. As today, he was always a very useful player for the team: vocal leader, intelligent reader of the game in attack and defense, excellent protector of the front line and with good athletic ability.

Those are the characteristics that he has been showing for a year and that have stood out mainly in the playoffs. Almost always from the bench, he went from an average of 18 minutes in the regular season to almost 24 in the postseason.

Throughout the year he had the best net rating, that is, the difference between points converted and received by the team for every 100 possessions: +9.8. Better than LeBron James’s +8.5 and far better than Anthony Davis’s +5 (5).

In the playoffs, he even has the best defensive rating on the team among players with a significant number of minutes. Statistics prove that the Lakers defend better when Caruso and James share the field than when LeBron and Davis do.

Why, then, did it take so long to come to the fore? In short, because his blessing was his punishment and it was precisely what the race almost cost him. In college his numbers were not outstanding. In several tests with the presence of NBA recruiters he played as he did in Texas; as the books do not rule in this kind of games: in favor of the team.

That made him go unnoticed by talent scouts – he wasn’t even picked in the 2016 draft.

Hopefully he earned a spot in the Summer Leagues which serve as a last chance for many “discards”. Played one with Philadelphia, but then it was discarded; participated in another with Oklahoma, but they did not sign a contract either.

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