New Bulls Acquisition Labeled James-Harden Stopper

Getty James Harden

It’s not often you hear the reconstructed Chicago Bulls mentioned in a conversation about good defense, but it happened in a recent article from Andrew Miller of Pippen Ain’t Easy.

With a core of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls aren’t exactly going to be known as a great defensive team. However, thanks to one of the more underrated signings the Bulls pulled off, the team will have at least one plus defender on the roster.

According to Miller, Caruso has proven to be an effective defensive player against some of the top offensive weapons in the NBA. Like who you ask? How about The Beard?

Alex Caruso Has Had Great Success Guarding James Harden

While Miller’s article also points out Caruso’s success shutting down Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young and the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, here is what the former wrote about Caruso’s time guarding the Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden.

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. 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. The fact that Caruso can go more than 30 possessions defending Harden without a single shooting foul just goes to show how disciplined and fundamentally solid the former Laker is.

Let’s face it, no one completely shuts down an excellent offensive player in the NBA. Guys are just too athletic and skilled to be shut down by any single defender. Also, the rules in today’s NBA are slanted toward the offensive player. Still, having someone who as least able to make a great player like Harden uncomfortable is invaluable.

Could Caruso Wind Up Being a Part of the Bulls’ Finishing Lineup?

It’s not about who starts games, the five that is consistently on the floor at the finish of games means more to a team’s bottom line.

There is a way Caruso could wind up as a final-5 player for the Bulls, and his defense on the perimeter could have a lot to do with that potential decision. Imagine a small, quick lineup that features Lonzo Ball, Caruso, LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams. We’re talking about a very small squad, but it is one that would have three above-average perimeter defenders in Caruso, Ball and Williams.

This lineup would also be a potential problem in transition with Ball at the helm. Chicago has a bit of flexibility and it will not struggle to score. However, the defense is still a question that hopefully Caruso can help provide an answer.

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