This is Alex Caruso’s first full season as a Los Angeles Laker and his impact has been felt throughout the league. Whether his name is coming up during all-star voting or he’s dunking on your favorite player, AC’s presence in the NBA is strong. He’s not the type of player to put up more than 15 shots a game or score 20 points more than a few times per season, but he is the type of player to do the little things that win games for his team.
During a recent nationally televised game on a certain channel with commentary from two intolerable coaches and one Mike Breen, Alex Caruso’s name was thrown around like an empty and meaningless new internet trend. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, especially since Caruso has become quite a conversation starter on Twitter and among NBA fans. However, he seems to be highly controversial for some of the national coverage folks like Coaches Dumb and Dumber.
The discourse about Caruso isn’t different from any other topic that could possibly come up during an NBA broadcast or what sometimes feels like a midmorning talk show when it comes to these two. But seriously, why can’t they just talk about Alex like any other NBA player?
Before I jump into my thoughts on the NBA’s Bald Eagle himself, I want to make it clear that I’m not taking this too seriously. There are much bigger fish to fry when it comes to NBA broadcasting and discourse in general, but why not have a little fun? And if I’m being frank, it’s hard to take much of anything said during national broadcasts seriously, especially with those two goofballs. That is of course, with all due respect. (Please read that last sentence in Coach Dumb a.k.a. Mark Jackson’s voice.)
So I think it’s worth stating here that Alex Caruso is good at basketball. Is he an All-Star? Well, no, although I would have very much enjoyed watching him ball out in Chicago a few weeks ago. But should he have even been among the top voted players leading into the break? My answer is another question; why not? I don’t want to jump into an All-Star game discussion because it’s truly unimportant at the end of the day, but this is relevant to the case for Alex Caruso’s legitimacy as an NBA player.
Underneath the posters and between the leg passes, Alex Caruso is a wildly productive player with a plus/minus over +20 in three games since the All-Star break (and if you want more advanced stats on Caruso, check out @johnschuhmann’s new piece for NBA.com). On a non-statistical level, as someone who has watched nearly every Laker game this season, the team instantly improves whenever he steps onto the court, a surge runs through Staples Center, and everyone waits to see what the Carushow has in store. Even at the new Chase Center against the Golden State Warriors, Alex shot a pair of free throws as MVP chants poured down on him.
I don’t quite understand why MVP chants during a 20 point blow out against the bottom-of-the- West Warriors made people upset, but here we are. Yes it’s funny, but it isn’t exactly a joke. AC has repeatedly been an X-factor for the Lakers, and he has proved himself valuable time and time again. So if fans feel inclined to express their appreciation for him then they should absolutely be able to without getting backlash from the Mark Jacksons of the world.
Regardless of whether Bleacher Report starts exclusively tweeting Caruso highlights or if he’s never mentioned on NBA Twitter again, AC will continue doing what he does. So Mark Jackson can have his due respect and the fans can have Alex Caruso because he doesn’t play for respect. He just plays. He has fun, works hard, rocks a headband, gets a few posters in, and simply wins at basketball.