The final round of voting for the 2021 NBA All-Star was released Thursday, and one name caught the internet’s attention more than any other: Alex Caruso, fourth-year goalie for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In an updated breakdown showing the top 10 vote-getters at each “position” in the conference, Caruso is currently ranked 10th in the Western Conference. He is the only Laker on the list who was not nominated by LeBron James (the top vote-getter) or Anthony Davis.
Alex Caruso is in the top 10 of All-Star voting in Western’s backyard pic.twitter.com/JsRdppOIhy
– Harrison Feigen (@hmfaigen) February 11, 2021
In a way, the addition of KarooShow shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Not only has the combo guard outgrown his cult status and is adored by Laker fans, but he has truly become one of the most valuable players and performers of the field hockey season for the league’s most prominent franchise (he also scored high in the first round of fan voting a year ago).
What is he, a star? No, there’s no way to justify that. But he has certainly become one of the Lakers’ most valuable players this season, and his team is well aware of that.
Two weeks ago, after helping to set up an 11-0 series that nearly gave Los Angeles a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, James praised Caruso’s versatility.
“AC is everything we need,” LeBron said in his post-game comments. “AC is kind of like a Swiss Army knife, to be honest. Whether it’s a pair of scissors, a sommelier, a nail clipper or a knife, he has it all in one. He can do it all. He helps our club in different ways….play on the point, he can play next to the ball. He shoots like one of the three dead men this year. He defends at a high level and doesn’t make many mistakes. …With a guy like that on the court, you can live when you’re playing basketball for championships.”
Caruso made massive and accurate plays during the Lakers’ 5-2 trip. He helped the Boston Celtics to a one-point victory with a fumble in the final minute, and returned to defense to prevent a fumble.
“One of the best defensive games of the year,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game.
A few days later, Vogel doubles down on his praise.
“He’s definitely one of our best players,” Vogel told reporters on Monday. “That’s the easiest way to put it. He usually moves the needle in a positive direction…. Alex is just one of those guys who hits both ends of the floor.
Caruso averages just 5.5 points in 18.6 minutes per game and has missed seven games due to contact injuries and a sprained hand. But its value is clear, both from the data and from the old “eye test.”
Of the 11 Lakers who have played significant minutes this season, Caruso has the highest net worth. He ranks first in the NBA.com Player Impact Rankings. He ranks fourth on the plus/minus team. In addition, AC has been in five of the Lakers’ 13 most-used line combinations. Four of those combinations are among the top teams in Los Angeles. The outlier is the starting lineup.
In other words, the best basketball team is always better when Caruso is on the floor.
Individual net rankings are an imperfect measure, but according to FWIW, Caruso ranks third among Western Conference guards, behind Mike Conley Jr. (most likely All-Star) and Patrick Beverly.
Follow Caruso during a game and you see a player who helps in a thousand subtle ways, shows elite instinct on both ends and always seems to make a positive move, whether it’s a swing, a backdoor dunk or a strategic deflection. He leads the Lakers in terms of assists, with 47.3 percent of his shots coming from deep.
“His versatility on the offensive end, his ability to shoot in threes and play on the ground, his ability to fumble, to pound, to roll on Lebron’s effort, all of this allows him to have an impact on offense,” Vogel said.
Alex Caruso should definitely be higher on the list 👀🐐 pic.twitter.com/7QuZ8cF5
– ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 11, 2021
Realistically, no #Lakers Twitter movement can garner enough votes to get Caruso nominated as an All-Star. He has the fewest votes of anyone in this table, several hundred thousand votes behind superstars Stephen Curry, Luca Doncic and Damian Lillard (moreover, fan support accounts for 50% of the votes for starters, and reserves are selected by the coaches).
As much fun as it is to imagine CaruShow running with the Stars in Atlanta, it would be a relative parody if it were eligible (though perhaps not as criminal as having the game at all). Just for fun, here are some of the Western guards who follow the Lakers Caruso into the All-Star voting: Conley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, DeAaron Fox, DeMar DeRozan, Malik Beasley, Victor Oladipo, John Wall, Jamal Murray, Eric Gordon.
Caruso, for his part, understands his place in the league hierarchy.
“I never want to take away guys who really deserve to be All-Stars, who have had great seasons,” Caruso told Mark Stein of the New York Times last year. “The fan vote is probably a compliment to my efforts to get here.”
Perhaps the Lakers’ bald eagle will be allowed to compete in the dunking contest or the Swiss pocket knife will compete in the skills competition. Otherwise, he will have to continue to be content with his role as the lead player in the championship.
Frequently asked questions
How many “All Stars” votes did Alex Caruso get?
2021 NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James ahead of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry in top 3 …
What is Alex Caruso’s 2K21 ranking?
In NBA 2K21, Alex Caruso’s current release has an overall rating of 2K 76 with a 3PT build. He has a total of 12 badges.
On average, how many minutes does Alex Caruso require?
Alex Caruso Stats | Basketball-Reference.com
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