Alex Caruso signed a four-year, $37 million deal with the Chicago Bulls this summer. While this signing isn’t as sexy on the surface as the Lonzo Ball or DeMar DeRozan signings, this signing Bulls fans should feel pretty happy about. Caruso came to appreciation around the league for his role off the bench during the Lakers’ 2020 Championship run in the NBA bubble. In this article, we’ll examine why the Caruso signing is highly impactful for the Bulls.
To NBA fans, Alex Caruso by mere appearance looks like the last guy to be in the NBA, yet alone a guy who gets decent minutes. People joke he even looks like Elmer Fudd from Space Jam. The guy is a walking meme.
In reality, he is a feisty player who is the guy that annoys the hell out of you on the court, unless he is on your team. While Bulls fans were unsure of how they felt about the signing, Lakers fans were thrown into a frenzy of disappointment.
Caruso is known for his on point defense. If you look at his defensive stats, they are good, but nothing that is eye popping. Caruso’s true value is off the charts when looking at the analytics. FiveThirtyEight has created a new analytic called RAPTOR. It is basketball’s version of baseball’s WAR. With skipping over a lot of detail, the analytic measures how many points a player is worth per 100 possessions. There are factors that go in to calculating the defensive points and offensive points. Then this is combined into an overall score. Caruso’s defensive RAPTOR is +3.9. This leads all point guards in the entire league.
When you look at Caruso’s offensive metrics, he is slightly below average. His biggest impact offensively is his ball control at the point and his high passing IQ. Last year, Caruso was the primary ball handler for the Lakers when it wasn’t LeBron James or Dennis Schroder. He held his own and had the third best assist-to-turnover ratio on the Lakers at 2.3. The two players ahead of him, with a 2.7, were LeBron James and Rajon Rondo. While he lacked in high leverage minutes, he was still very effective. Pairing him with elite scorers could up his game.
When you look at the Bulls options at the point last year in Coby White and Tomas Satoransky, they both struggle with turnovers and defense. Caruso is also very effective from the three-point line. Caruso would pair well in the back court with these traits. Its also possible that Caruso will be paired with Coby White off the bench. White has played better in a scoring role rather than a facilitator role. It could be a match made in heaven.
If comparing salaries of guys in the free agent market that were similar to Caruso, Bulls fans can truly see they got a bang for their buck.
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