It was surely tough for Los Angeles Lakers fans to see Alex Caruso leave Hollywood, the place where he became some sort of an underground basketball deity in his own right. Los Angeles is always about the superstars, but it’s also a place that can make legends out of garden-variety players because that’s what Tinseltown does: amplify the good qualities just enough to shadow the flaws. With Caruso off to Windy City, the Lakers seem to have found another darling in the form of Mac McClung. You may remember him for his insane high school highlight reels or his short stint with the Georgetown Hoyas or his seasons with the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Even if you haven’t seen McClung play before, chances are you have seen him on your Twitter timeline over the past few days, with many willingly anointing him as Alex Caruso’s heir apparent.
Lakers fans have every right to feel excited about Mac McClung even though he has not made it to the team’s big-league roster yet. McClung is on the Lakers’ payroll via a training camp deal (Exhibit 10) and if fans look at him as the next coming of Caruso, that’s 100 percent fine, at least from a novelty standpoint. Whether McClung would be able to bring the same impact Caruso brought to the Lakers is another story, though.
From a pure basketball standpoint, here are three reasons why Mac McClung is not the next Alex Caruso.
3. “Alex, please break down the shot selections”
Most of the comparisons between Mac McClung and Alex Caruso begin and end with the combination of their being unassuming white guys and explosive hops that could bring the house down anytime on a fast-break opportunity. Outside of that, these are two players with different approaches on the way they hunt for baskets. Take for example their shot selection.
In the 2020-21 NBA season, Caruso averaged just 6.4 points per game, which is understandable because he’s someone coming off the bench and whose primary job was to facilitate, defend, and fill in whatever gap the Lakers need on a given situation. He’s basically a utility guy. That’s not how McClung operates. McClung is always on attack mode when he’s on the floor. He loves having the ball in his hands and picking his preferred spots on offense. He would soon learn to change that mentality in the NBA, just as Caruso did, but the question is will he be able to adapt to that shift in mindset as smoothly as the Bald Mamba had done in LA? Caruso thrived because he learned to embrace his new role, which fit his versatility so perfectly.