Bulls Star Alex Caruso Sounds Off on ‘Outright Steal’ of Offseason

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls

Getty Alex Caruso #6 of the Chicago Bulls is seen during warm-ups before a game

The Chicago Bulls went about their offseason as planned: re-signing Zach LaVine, making what they hope are improvements on the margins, and counting on the development of their youngsters.

That plan might have still netted them one of the “best values” in free agency in center Andre Drummond who split last season between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets.

The addition certainly has the support of one of his former teammates.

Drummond figures to help improve the Bulls’ rebounding and, at the very least, be a deterrent when in position down low. While he’s not perfect, what he should bring to the table at the price the Bulls paid is notable.


A Teammate’s Support

Bulls guard Alex Caruso appeared on the July 15 episode of “The Old Man & the Three” podcast with J.J. Redick. While discussing a variety of topics, Caruso was asked what the Bulls needed to do to take the next step as a team.

He replied, “get healthy, stay healthy”. But right after that came the significance of adding Drummond.

“I think we addressed a little bit of our backup 5-role with ‘Drum’ coming in. Shot blocker, rebounder, finisher around the rim. Give a lob threat to us — that dynamic that we didn’t have last year which I think is important in the league nowadays, having a vertical threat.”


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Caruso previously spoke about Drummond, his former teammate with the Los Angeles Lakers, on the July 12 episode of the “Bulls Talk Podcast”.

“[Drummond] can get you 10 to 20 (rebounds) depending on how people shoot it any given night. Good screener, I think a little bit of an underrated passer at times, and just a big body…He just has special skills. That’s why he’s been in the league so many times. All-Stars, league-leading rebounds. He’s just a really good player.”


Bang for Their Buck

Forbes’ Bryan Toporek released his list of candidates from the early portion of free agency that could “wind up being the biggest steals”. Drummond is in the group that also includes John Wall of the Los Angeles Clippers and Donte DiVincenzo of the Golden State Warriors.

Toporek points out that Drummond has been a starter everywhere but with the 76ers. Even then, says Toporek, he went right back to starting with Brooklyn.

“The Chicago Bulls landed a starting-caliber center for $3.3 million per year…He’ll return positive value just by soaking up 15 or so minutes behind Nikola Vucevic and filling in as a spot starter when needed.”

Drummond’s limitations outside of the paint offensively and in the pick-and-roll on defense will limit his effectiveness in the playoffs.

But Toporek makes no bones about what Drummond will and won’t bring to the table.

“Drummond has long been one of the league’s most prolific rebounders. He led the league in rebounds per game four times between 2015-16 and 2019-20…The soon-to-be 29-year-old won’t provide much offensively outside of the paint…He’s best suited rolling to the basket, serving as a lob threat, and scoring on putbacks after hauling in offensive rebounds.”

The Bulls ranked 29th in offensive rebounding last season, per NBA.com. A few extra possessions could make a big difference for a Bulls squad that was already one of the best in the clutch.

Toporek adds that similar players have gotten paid considerably more this summer.

“Considering what JaVale McGee (three years, $20.4 million) and Dewayne Dedmon (two years, $9.0 million) received from the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, respectively, Drummond is an outright steal in comparison.”

McGee, 34, is a good comparison coming off of back-to-back seasons as a backup with the Phoenix Suns.

He did start for two seasons with the Lakers before that, though, winning a championship in 2020. He is also five years older than Drummond while Dedmon is three years older than the Bulls’ new big man.

Drummond outrebounded both Dedmon and McGee while averaging more points than the former last season.


Flaws Baked Into the Price

Drummond is not as good at the free-throw line (52.4% career) as either Dedmon or McGee who both shoot over 69% at the charity stripe last season. Dedmon also adds the ability to stretch the floor, knocking down 40% of his triples on extremely low volume.

He might be better suited on the bench in late-game situations because of his struggles at the free-throw line.

And if he is shooting a three for the Bulls, it will likely come with the shot clock about to expire.

 

But, as Toporek notes, the Bulls are not paying him to be a 30-minute-per-game player. They just need him to be a competent backup and a capable fill-in starter for Vucevic. Drummond, who has as many All-Stars to his name as Vucevic, should be capable of that.

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