Although the offseason has not been a normal one, Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso thinks the shorter offseason has helped him.
To this very day, there is plenty of reason to remain in celebration mode given that the 2020 championship belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, not as many folks are psyched about how short the offseason has been for teams like the Lakers in particular.
The Lakers’ last game against the Miami Heat was on October 11, which was not even a full two months ago. Additionally, it is worth noting that the regular season is approximately two weeks away (December 22 to be precise).
Certainly, it is safe to say Lakers’ fans are stoked to see their Lakers back in action and attempt to defend their title. Considering how tough 2020 has been, sports in general provide a nice distraction from the scary realities that continue to plague society.
Conversely, it is a completely different story from the standpoint of a professional athlete. The condensed offseason is by no means something players are accustomed to. Players often rely on this time to rest and recuperate to ensure they are in optimal shape for the following season.
Indeed, every single player is theoretically in the same boat with the offseason being razor thin. As stated above, though, one could argue the Lakers are at a slightly greater disadvantage due to when they last played.
Without a doubt, the curtailed offseason especially impacts guys like superstar LeBron James. Granted James has been excellent through his career in terms of conditioning, it is crucial to remember he is entering his 18th season. He is not a young pup anymore, so the shorter offseason is not ideal for players in his shoes.
By comparison, Anthony Davis is significantly younger than James in being 27 years of age. Notwithstanding the age differential, Davis was banged around all postseason long and had a few scares. Thankfully, none of those scares translated to a major injury during the team’s recent championship run.
Factors such as the above-mentioned are perfect examples as to why the offseason is so important. Players may make a lot of money and have access to some of the best training methods in the world. Nevertheless (and whilst it might be contrary to popular belief), they are every bit as human as the rest of us.
In light of this, Ron Gutterman of Lakers Nation recently alluded to a possibility the Lakers may have to consider in the early stages of the stage. He revealed that the Lakers may tinker with the idea of having minutes restrictions for players like James in order to avoid burnout from occurring.
That being said, it is fair to say the Lakers may opt to implement their own version of load management. Sure, the thought of it may not make certain fans happy, but the Lakers are likely not the only team who intend to incorporate such a strategy to keep their players’ health at bay.
In spite of the concerns associated with the condensed offseason, one key Lakers’ reserve is not as bothered by it. On the other hand, he is actually benefitting from the lesser amount of time off.
The player in question is guard and fan-favorite Alex Caruso. This is encouraging to hear given the drawbacks of the shorter offseason, and Caruso appears to have used his time wisely.
Per Gutterman’s transcription, Caruso recently said he has continued to put in work since the team’s championship and is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.
"“I honestly feel there is a little bit of positive to take from this. Us and the Heat have had the shortest amount of time off between playing meaningful games and games where you have to be on your Ps and Qs, be locked in and ready to play.“I think that’s helped me. Even when I’ve played a little pickup and going through some skill work, I just feel like I’ve had better carryover from last season to now than I have in previous seasons with my summer workouts because there was a shortened time. From that aspect I’m a little excited about getting back and playing.“As far as improving and seeing what I can do, it’s always the same stuff for me. I think I can get better in every area. I don’t think there’s one or two that I need to point out or make the focus. I think it’s just an overall thing for me.”"
Caruso is spot on when bringing up the same pickle the Lakers and Heat are stuck in. Certainly, it is not a perfectly woven, tailor-made situation to already be getting ready for another season. Caruso is not using the shortened offseason as an excuse, though, which is admirable.
Contrarily, the guard gave specific examples as to what he has done in an effort to improve his overall game. Therefore, it makes sense as to why Caruso is anxiously awaiting the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
Frankly, this comes as no surprise provided that Caruso has worked extremely hard to earn his spot in the Lakers’ rotation. It is important to recall that this man went undrafted back in the day and was originally a two-way player with the Lakers.
Caruso never got down on himself, though, and was sure to make the most of his opportunities whenever he was called up from the G League. The Lakers eventually realized how tough and gritty Caruso was, namely from a defensive standpoint. Due to these reasons, the team awarded his hard work and determination with a two-year pact in 2019.
Albeit there are holes in his offensive game, AC has never been the type of player who has taken his foot off the gas pedal. He has a strong competitive spirit and is the type of player who will willingly out-hustle his opponent for the betterment of the team.
Since the Lakers are a rather defensive-minded group, the Bald Eagle is an impeccable fit on this roster. Caruso is a sneaky, intuitive player and akin to an eagle, is adept at swooping in out of nowhere and getting crucial stops and steals for Los Angeles.
At the end of the day, Caruso does a lot of the little things right. He may not necessarily stuff the stat sheet all the time but is the personification of a coach’s dream.
There is valid reason as to why Caruso was substituted into the starting lineup for Game 6 of the NBA Finals. He gives the team a much-added edge, which was important following the heartbreaking Game 5 loss. Indubitably, the substitution paid off in a major way for L.A., who were later crowned world champs.
Los Angeles Lakers’ fans can only hope AC’s hard work continues to manifest itself in the time to come. He is one tough cookie, to say the least—one that does not easily crumble. Assuming he keeps it up like he has this offseason, it will be hard to keep him off the hardwood.