No, it’s not Alex Caruso. Despite Lakers coach Frank Vogel praising the 25-year-old’s energy in their recent win against the Denver Nuggets. With Vogel quoted saying the following about Caruso:
“But right now he’s my secret weapon; I break him out when I need him. He’s certainly earned a rotational spot and he’s in the rotation, but like I said, if we need him to grow into a bigger role, he delivers”
In fact, the Lakers’ secret weapon hasn’t stepped foot on an NBA court as of yet. He’s currently situated in the G-League, on a two-way contract. It’s a 23-year-old forward/center, a rookie, it’s Devontae Cacok.
Cacok is averaging an impressive 19.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1 steal per game, in his first season in the professional ranks. This on 67.6% shooting. Such numbers put him 26th in the entire G-League in scoring and 2nd in rebounding. His energy levels are through the roof and his impact physically, despite standing 6-foot-8, is monstrous.
18 out of his 23 games this season have resulted in double-doubles. He has broken the 30-point barrier twice, and the 20-point mark on 10 occasions. In addition, he has had 15+ rebounds in 5 games.
If his numbers weren’t impressive enough, he has built a solid reputation defensively. Not backing down from any challenge with his ferocious on-the-court attitude. Cacok did represent the Lakers in pre-season recording two impressive 16-point performances against the Golden State Warriors. But with a stacked, experienced roster, his chance of landing a permanent NBA contract was limited.
Those within the Lakers organisation are extremely high on the 23-year-old, stating that his NBA opportunity will come in time. When it does, be ready for him to leave his mark.
Opportunity to Impress:
That opportunity could come towards the back end of this campaign, depending on the Western Conference seedings. If the Lakers are multiple games ahead come the conclusion of the regular season, Cacok could be called up on his two-way deal, to finish the season. Especially as, under such circumstances, LeBron James and Anthony Davis would most likely be resting ahead of the postseason.
Devontae Cacok is used to leaving his mark when given the opportunity. At the collegiate level, for UNC Wilmington, he averaged 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, on an incredible 80% shooting. This field goal percentage led the nation at the time, setting a record. Furthermore, Cacok earned 2 All-CAA First Team and 3 CAA All-Defensive Team selections in his 4 years at college.
He is primarily listed as a Power Forward but can also play the Center position. Giving his team the option to play small ball. His characteristics are strikingly similar to Montrezl Harrell, of cross-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Harrell received multiple assignments to the G-League during his time in Houston, but flourished when given the opportunity. Upon being traded to the Clippers, his numbers increased even more and now he’s regarded as one of the best sparks of the bench in the entire association. Maybe Cacok just needs the same opportunity to impress?
The time is there though with the 23-year-old. He is currently in the first year of a two-season, two-way contract with the Lakers. His chance in the NBA may come this season, it may not. But the front office of the purple and gold must be watching Cacok’s progress with excitement.