The NBA and the NBPA came to an agreement on a new, seven-year collective bargaining agreement over the weekend; a move which ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has framed as securing “labor peace through the rest of the decade.”
One of the provisions of the new CBA is a minimum requirement of 65 games played for players to qualify for individual, year-end awards, as well as selection to things like the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams. For his part, Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso — who serves as his club’s NBPA player rep — is down with the change.
“I think the 65 game minimum is a good thing,” Caruso said on Monday, via CHGO Sports. “I don’t think I was on either side of that, whether it was mandatory or not. But I think it’s good to reward the guys that have played the games. Part of that is injuries, too, just dealing with the season. But if you play 65, I think that’s close to 75%. That’s a good thing.”
Although the new requirement won’t actually take effect until next season, it does make one think about Caruso’s own All-Defensive Team candidacy in 2022-23, a campaign that has seen him appear in 64 games heading into Tuesday’s bout with the Atlanta Hawks.
Caruso doesn’t seem to be sweating it one way or the other, though.
Bulls’ Alex Caruso Sounds Off on His Case for an NBA All-Defensive Team Selection
Asked about his All-Defensive Team prospects, Caruso made it clear that no voting panel or piece of hardware will define him or his game. As he sees it, he already has cred as an elite defender with the players he lines up against on the hardwood each night.
“I don’t know if it matters, just because in my head I know I’m one of the best defenders in the league. I’m guarding the best players night in, night out,” Caruso said of the All-Defense possibility. “I feel like I have, for the majority, the respect from the guys I play against, and they know that, whether they want to admit it or not, it’s a tough assignment and I’m going to make them work every time they play against me.”
The numbers definitely speak to Caruso’s efficacy on the defensive end. His 1.5 steals per contest currently rank 12th best in the Association. Meanwhile, his defensive box plus/minus score of 3.4 is the No. 2 mark league-wide and his D-rating of 106.4 is sixth among players logging 60-plus appearances.
For Caruso, however, winning is all that actually matters.
“If I get the award, that’s cool, that’s always fun to put up in your house and to claim that,” Caruso said. “But for me, it’s always just been about the process of trying to win games. And that’s how I affect the game the best… just what’s easy for me to put my stamp on the game.”
Caruso Praises the NBPA Leadership
On the whole, Caruso is pleased with the new CBA and the myriad ways it will benefit himself and his fellow ballers in the years to come. And he’s equally as pleased with the NBPA leadership for making it all happen amid their negotiations with the league’s owners.
“They’re just always trying to take care of us. Trying to make sure we’re getting the most out of the BRI and making sure we’re represented well in terms of how we represent the league and the teams even outside of ourselves. They are warriors,” he said.
“They work on that stuff. I just have to play basketball and listen in on the meeting, so we’re thankful for them for sure.”