Arturas Karnisovas and the Chicago Bulls made a number of moves throughout the offseason, including the signing of former Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso.
A member of the 2020 title team, he brings a defensive prowess and championship experience to the Windy City.
Caruso signed a four-year, $37-million contract with the Bulls in July, after four seasons in Los Angeles.
And already, his experiences as a member of a title run are showing, both in-game and in practice.
One video out of Bulls practice (via @StephNoh on Twitter) shows Caruso helping to adjust the team’s on-court communication:
The former Lakers guard is one of the multiple talents the front office brought in to help improve their defense.
But without the newly acquired Alex Caruso, the Chicago Bulls defense next season would certainly look different.
And if it weren’t for one of his former Los Angeles Lakers teammates, he may have never made it to the team at all.
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Caruso: ‘He (LeBron) Makes Me Look Good’
Alex Caruso went from undrafted to the G-League, to a roster spot, and eventually a title with the Los Angeles Lakers.
His entire career has had one constant, LeBron James, who’s always been in the guard’s corner and rooting for his success.
Caruso told the media (via NBC Sports) that his contract is a byproduct of playing with the four-time champion:
I owe a lot to him for where I am today. Obviously, I put a lot of work in, but he makes me look good. He makes the team look good. When you win, everybody gets paid. Everybody gets to do a job. Being part of his legacy and being a part of that team for the last couple years was fun for me.
Over four seasons and 184 appearances with the “LakeShow,” the 27-year old averaged 5.9 points, 2.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game.
Now with the Chicago Bulls, Alex Caruso will look to vindicate LeBron James’ last assist to him and continue improving.
But his biggest opportunity to do so may not come about until the they make the playoffs, which they’re hoping to accomplish for the first time since 2016.
Alex Caruso, James Harden Stopper?
In a September 26 article for Pippen Ain’t Easy, Andrew Miller explored Alex Caruso’s star-stopping defense.
The former Los Angeles Lakers guard has had particular success guarding Brooklyn Nets’ guard James Harden.
From Miller’s latest:
Caruso defended Harden in more than three-dozen possessions last season. And in that time, Harden only hit one field goal (which was a three-pointer), and turned the ball over three times. The exception here was the fact that Harden did get nine assists while Caruso defended him last season.
Assists aren’t hard to come by for Harden, a member of the Borough’s Big Three with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
But as Miller goes on to detail, trips to the free-throw line have been hard to come by, at least when being guarded by Caruso:
Yet, the fact that Caruso never fouled Harden in that number of possessions defending him is insanely impressive. Harden averaged around 10 free-throw attempts per 100 possessions last season, and 12.5 in his career.
Trust that if the Chicago Bulls are to make a deep playoff run in the Eastern Conference next season, they’ll inevitably be matched up with James Harden and the 2022 title favorite Brooklyn Nets.
Alex Caruso could become the ultimate x-factor in that series, based on his past experience with the 2018 MVP.