Alex Caruso

Bulls 2023-24 season player profiles: Alex Caruso

Guard improved 3-point shooting while remaining elite on defense

NBC Universal, Inc.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

NBC Sports Chicago is publishing a series of player profiles on the main rotational players for the Chicago Bulls, both reviewing their 2023-24 season and assessing what’s ahead.

Next up: Alex Caruso

Previous profiles: DeMar DeRozan

Zach LaVine

Coby White

Nikola Vučević

2023-24 statistics

71 games, 28.7 minutes per game. 10.1 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game, 1.7 steals per game, 1 block per game. 46.8% FG, 40.8% 3PT on 4.7 attempts per game, 61.3% True Shooting.

Contract status

Caruso enters the final year of his four-year, $36.98 million contract. His final-year salary of $9.89 million becomes fully guaranteed on June 30.

Season review

Early last season, Caruso detailed his approach to last offseason, essentially asking himself: How can I most help to improve the team? Given that Caruso was coming off his first selection to the first-team All-Defense, Caruso reached an easy conclusion: Be more selfish offensively and let it fly more from 3-point range.

Not only did Caruso launch a career-high volume of 4.7 attempts per game, he shot over 40 percent from 3-point range for the second time and first with at least 26 games played. Caruso’s steady shooting produced some massive late-game shots and helped him average in double-figured scoring for the first time in his career.

Add to that another stellar defensive season and it’s easy to determine why rival teams keep calling the Bulls about Caruso’s availability.

Caruso was the only player in the league this season with at least 130 made 3-pointers, 100 steals and 60 blocks---and first to achieve those milestones in the same season since Robert Covington in 2020-21. He also was the only NBA player this season to post at least 120 steals and 70 blocks, both career-highs.

Caruso led the NBA in deflections per game, finished second in total deflections, third in steals and seventh in loose balls recovered and 3-point shots contested. He also drew 12 charges and already has won the NBA’s Hustle Award en route to likely another All-Defensive team selection.

But Caruso’s biggest jump came on offense, just like he planned it.

A look ahead

Caruso is on one of the league’s best value contracts. In fact, his 2024-25 salary is only guaranteed for $3 million until the Bulls obviously fully guarantee it on or before June 30.

But that speaks to how much his value has jumped over the life of the deal. In its original structure, the Bulls negotiated that wiggle room in case they wanted to waive him or include him in a trade package as part of a larger deal that the other team could then waive for cost savings.

Instead, teams now routinely call the Bulls to inquire about Caruso’s availability; the Golden State Warriors have been consistent suitors for two seasons.

Caruso is extension-eligible this offseason. Obviously, the Bulls don’t have to extend him. But it will be intriguing to see how they handle his situation moving forward. Do they identify him as a core piece and try to extend him now? Do they keep him on this value deal and finally maximize one of their best assets as they try to extract themselves from mediocrity?

Caruso, who turned 30 in February, won’t change his hellbent playing style as he ages. It’s the only way he knows how to play. He has averaged 69 games over the past two seasons as he and the training staff have created a solid maintenance plan.

In many ways, Caruso embodies the type of culture that management wants to create, which is why it has rebuffed offers for him in the past.

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