Selling tickets to the Carushow
Using the Bulls' rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers as an opportunity to deep dive on Alex Caruso
Poor shooting kept the score close in the Bulls’ third preseason game, a 102-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They still defended pretty well overall, and I thought Alex Caruso was a big reason why they’ve had so much success on that end. I decided to focus on him for this game.
Caruso had some uncharacteristic turnovers in this game trying to do a little too much. But he’s also provided some of the best passes of the preseason, including this 50-foot alley-oop pass to Derrick Jones Jr.
Caruso has had plenty of highlight plays this preseason, usually from his defense generating offense.
Even on the more mundane plays that don’t go viral, he’s contributing a ton of value. Billy Donovan mentioned how much he loved Caruso’s vocal nature during the team’s media day. He acts as a sort of quarterback on defense, as I illustrated here.
Caruso’s screen navigation has already been widely discussed, and I thought he was going to take fringe guard Kevin Pangos out of the league based on how completely he shut him down.
Caruso pairs coaching clinic-worthy technique with extremely high effort. He basically never takes plays off and is willing to sacrifice his body. He finished ninth in the league in charges drawn last season, and he’s tried to draw multiple ones so far in these meaningless preseason games.
Caruso’s offense isn’t quite up to par with his superb defense. He’s improved as a 3-point shooter, but he doesn’t take a ton of them. He’s around average finishing at the rim. His midrange game is nonexistent.
What I do like about Caruso offensively is that he has a little bit of nasty to him in his screen setting. He takes it way too seriously, like me and my readers doing deep dives into preseason games. Watch him take out DeMar DeRozan’s man on this hammer screen to open up a potential corner 3-pointer.
He’s also an excellent passer, kind of a poor man’s Lonzo Ball in the way he can push in transition and read the floor to know who is open.
Caruso is a know-your-role player, and that is useful on a team that already has a ton of offensive creation. I am fairly confident that he will become a fan favorite not because of his appearance, but rather for the way he obviously contributes to winning when you watch him on a nightly basis.
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