Rajon Rondo’s injury has brought Lakers guard Alex Caruso to the spotlight.
Earlier than the Los Angeles Lakers headed to the NBA bubble in Orlando, the staff needed to deal with a void within the backcourt left by veteran guard, Avery Bradley. The 29-year-old journeyman determined to opt-out of the NBA restart because of household considerations forcing the staff to behave quick to discover a viable substitute.
Luckily, the Lakers did act shortly and have been in a position to fill the void with the addition of a one-time NBA champion, JR Smith. The staff additionally introduced in guard Dion Waiters earlier than the season was suspended in March, giving them a bit extra depth within the backcourt.
Though the additions of Smith and Waiters will definitely assist the Lakers transferring ahead, the storied franchise has already suffered a big damage, solely two practices into their time within the bubble. Rajon Rondo went down with a fracture to his proper thumb, which would require surgical procedure and can maintain him out no less than six to eight weeks.
This can be a pricey blow for the Lakers. Rondo is probably not the identical participant of outdated and hadn’t had one of the best 12 months up thus far, however he supplied the staff with one other vocal chief with championship expertise and maybe most notably, a dependable ball-handler within the backcourt that might take the strain off LeBron James.
With Rondo now out for doubtlessly two months or extra, the Lakers are in a bind as soon as once more within the backcourt. LeBron could have flourished as the first ball-handler this season averaging a profession and league-high 10.6 assists per sport, however he can’t be requested to shoulder the load solely now that the arguably second-best ball handler and passer on the staff, Rondo, is out for a substantial period of time.
The eye now shifts to the guards on the staff which may be capable of step up with Rondo now on the mend. Though Quinn Prepare dinner can deal with the ball and Waiters can also be capable of convey the ball up every now and then, however it will likely be Alex Caruso, who the staff ought to look to fill Rondo’s footwear transferring ahead.
Previous to the staff signing Smith following Bradley’s determination, Caruso talked about doubtlessly being the man to interchange Bradley within the beginning lineup and tackle a much bigger function.
“So far as basketball goes, received to fill his function,” Caruso stated. “May not be one particular person, however this staff has completed an awesome job all 12 months when guys have been out. Stepping up and filling a job…I’m undecided if I’m going to be the only supplier of all the things that Avery did. That’s loads to ask for due to how good he’s at what he does, however I’m positively going to be able to fill a part of that hole and that want.”
With Rondo now on the shelf, Caruso is the plain option to deal with extra of the ball-handling duties, and it could possibly be a blessing in disguise for a few causes.
One, Rondo solely began three video games this season and averaged career-low in factors (7.1) whereas shelling out his second-lowest totals in assists per sport (5.0). He additionally was taking part in the bottom variety of minutes of his profession at 20.5, which is strictly three minutes much less per sport compared to his rookie season with the Boston Celtics at 23.5. The Lakers teaching workers appeared to be step by step getting into a unique path at level guard, particularly with LeBron taking over a unique function.
Secondly, few gamers on this Lakers squad work as effectively taking part in alongside James as Caruso. LeBron made that abundantly clear after a sport in opposition to the Memphis Grizzlies again in February when their on-court chemistry was at an all-time excessive.
“Simply taking part in the sport the fitting means,” LeBron stated of his reference to Caruso on the ground. “Very cerebral basketball gamers. We’re making successful performs, each of us. We work effectively collectively, and each minute we’re on the ground, we’re simply making an attempt to make it productive, making an attempt to be within the plus and never the minus. It’s an awesome mixture for our ball membership.”
Together with having that chemistry with LeBron, Caruso brings extra to the desk compared to Rondo. He’s a greater shooter from the ground, past the arc, and the free-throw line. He’s youthful with much more to show as a participant that hasn’t inked his first profitable long-term deal but, and he’s nowhere close to as injury-prone as the previous Celtics star.
The one edge I’d give Rondo is playoff and championship expertise. Rondo already has a title to his credit score and is a battle-tested veteran within the postseason. Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply as a lot if he can’t keep wholesome and on the ground.
It is going to be Caruso’s time to shine over the following few months within the NBA bubble, and the Lakers will want him to take his sport to a different stage. By all indications, he’s up for the problem and can embrace the added accountability, but it surely stays to be seen whether or not he can come by means of for Los Angeles and actually make a reputation for himself with the perfect alternative he’s been given.