Bulls’ Alex Caruso Lands Multiple Slots in ESPN’s NBA Awards Predictions

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls

Getty Alex Caruso #6 of the Chicago Bulls.

Last season, Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso earned his first All-Defensive Team honor, further validating the prevailing sentiments that he is not only the Bulls’ best defender but also one of the best in the league.

A former champion with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, he could be headed for even more accolades, too.

ESPN has Caruso ranked ninth in their list of candidates for Sixth Man of the Year.

It is an interesting placement given his skill set compared to the players that usually win the award. Caruso, 29, averaged 5.6 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 36.4% from beyond the arc and setting new career highs starting 36 of his 67 total appearances last season.

Only one other player on the list averaged fewer than 10.0 points per game: Indiana Pacers big man Obi Toppin who goes from inconsistent minutes with the New York Knicks to a presumably larger role following being traded.

And Toppin still averaged more points per game (7.4) than Caruso, typically a staple of winning Sixth Man of the Year.

Former Knick Anthony Mason is the only previous Sixth Man of the Year winner to average fewer than 11.0 PPG, per ESPN. That was in 1994-95, and the 14.9 PPG averaged by last season’s winner, Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon, was the fewest by any winner since Jamal Crawford in 2015-16.

Winning the award would require an uncharacteristic scoring performance from Caruso.

Alex Caruso ‘Receiving Votes’ for Defensive Player of the Year

Caruso’s trademark skill was good enough to earn him recognition as one of the league’s five best positional defenders last season but not enough to land him a spot in the top 10 of ESPN’s Defensive Player of the Year candidates.

The list of players ahead of him is chock full of accomplished candidates.

They include the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Jaren Jackson of the Memphis Grizzlies as well as two-time MVP and 2019-20 winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Memphis’ Marcus Smart is the last guard to take the award home, winning it 2021-22 amid some light controversy. Before him, it was Gary Payton of the Seattle Supersonics in 1996 further underlining just how difficult it would be for Caruso to win regardless of his seeding on ESPN’s list.

With defensive anchors such as Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors – both previous winners – on the list, the task becomes that much more daunting for Caruso.

Bulls Added Help for Alex Caruso

Caruso has dealt with injuries in the past and Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has spoken of not wanting to overtax a player who has missed no fewer than the 15 games he did last season in his career. To aid in that effort, and raise the team’s floor, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas added a pair of savvy defenders.

Neither Jevon Carter nor Torrey Craig offers the versatility that Caruso does, sometimes even guarding point guards and power forwards on the same possession.

They will allow Donovan to pick and choose who and on whom he deploys Caruso, though.

As the Bulls embark on the second consecutive season without Lonzo Ball – who provided defense and shooting on par with (and even surpassing with the shooting) Caruso – amid his continued recovery from a knee injury, Caruso’s presence is paramount to the Bulls’ success.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments