Lakers' Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso Deserve All-Defense Consideration, Vogel Says

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) dribbles during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns Sunday, May 9, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Tuesday that both Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso should be in consideration for the NBA's All-Defensive teams.

Vogel also stumped for Caruso on Sunday:

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

Frank Vogel, after talking about how huge Alex Caruso has been in these last two games pitching in offensively, brought up that Caruso “Has to be considered for All-Defensive Team.” Caruso ranks 3rd in the NBA in defensive rating (behind Gobert and Conley).

Caruso, 27, has been excellent defensively and remains a key contributor for the Lakers. While it's far harder to quantify defensive impact than offensive impact, Caruso's effort on that end is bolstered by a few metrics, alongside passing the always subjective eye test.

The Lakers, for instance, have a 102.2 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) with Caruso on the floor. That number rises to 107.5 when he sits, per NBA.com.

BBall Index @The_BBall_Index

Defensive Impact for players in our Point of Attack Defensive Role 🔹 Up-Down shows defensive impact per 100 possessions 🔹 Left-Right shows aggregate defensive impact (minutes matter) Explore the free data: https://t.co/RZfZgQENKA Read about LEBRON: https://t.co/w5pmQiziX4 https://t.co/NVlyGErCIz

But then you look at Caruso's defensive real plus-minus of -1.09 (298th in the NBA), and the statistical argument for his positive defensive impact is harder to make. Such are the whims of defensive metrics.

Caldwell-Pope, 28, offers similar variance. The Lakers have a defensive rating of 107.7 when he's on the court that improves to 103.4 when he sits. But his DRPM is an impressive 2.51, 25th in the NBA.

Neither is going to win Defensive Player of the Year, an award that seems likely to come down to the Utah Jazz's rim-protecting center Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia 76ers multi-positional defender Ben Simmons. More than a few other players will make strong cases for All-Defensive Team selections.

But Vogel unsurprisingly likes his guys. In a season when the Lakers have needed their role players to come up big given the injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Caruso and Caldwell-Pope have done their part.