Bulls Star Gets Honest on Team’s Ceiling in Revamped Eastern Conference

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls

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

The late-summer French invasion by Chicago Bulls defensive ace Alex Caruso continued with an interview with Sebastien Ferreira for Le Figaro.

Caruso is in France as part of a promotion for the Bulls tilt with the Detroit Pistons scheduled for January 19, 2023. The guard took advantage of his trip to re-create an iconic photo of Michael Jordan in front of the Eiffel Tower.

He said the timing of the trip will break up the monotony and “perk us up mentally”.

Caruso called the game a “great opportunity” and that teammate Nikola Vucevic was the most “impatient” about the trip. The former undrafted free agent had a lot to say about the Bulls’ outlook following last season and going forward. He also had a strong message for their competition.

Alex Caruso: Bulls ‘Can Beat Anyone’

Caruso was upbeat when discussing the Bulls season. They came out of the gates scorching hot. They did not suffer their tenth loss of the season until a week into the new calendar year but could only win seven games total after the All-Star break.

They fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs in five games.

Injuries played a major role in their rapid dropoff but Caruso keeps it all in perspective because of the locker room the Bulls have.

“Honestly, I feel very good about last season. There are a lot of things that were beyond our control, with the injuries, the Covid. But everyone played very hard. When things happen to you that you can’t control, that’s what you expect: character, personality. That’s partly why we enjoyed the season so much. Everyone gets along very well in the team, and that makes it much easier to get through the 82 matches of the season.”

It’s a good thing they like each other.

The Bulls are banking on better health and continuity this coming season after an offseason light on outside additions. They are already off to a rough start with the expectation being that Lonzo Ball will miss training camp and the early portion of the regular season.

When close to healthy early on, they did have the look of a team to be reckoned with. But how far this team can go even if healthy has been hotly debated.

Most have them pegged as a Play-In Tournament team but Caruso sees it differently.

“I think if we play at our best level, we can beat anyone,” he told Ferreira stopping short of calling this group a title contender.

Should Caruso Start in Ball’s Place?

Caruso also missed half of last season with various injuries including a fractured wrist. That was a freak accident, the result of a hard foul. But Caruso has been working to improve his durability this summer to better withstand the rigors of an NBA season.

There’s a chance that he could start next season given Ball’s injury.

The Bulls have other options in second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu and free agent acquisition Goran Dragic and it might be best to keep a cap on the Caruso’s minutes regardless.

Chicago had a plus-5.6 net rating with Caruso on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass.

Their rating was plus-3.0 when he ran point guard and plus-3.7 when he shared the court with the Bulls’ Big Three of Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine.

The fifth member of those groupings made all the difference in the world as their net rating got as high as plus-20.6 with Ball on the floor and as low as minus-20.5 with Dosunmu. But two of the three lineups to meet the 100-possession threshold did have positive net ratings.

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