Alex Caruso

Bulls' Alex Caruso earns second team All-Defense honors

Guard, who also won NBA's Hustle Award, draws postseason recognition for second straight season

NBC Universal, Inc. Alex Caruso earned All-Defense honors for second straight season.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

At the Chicago Bulls’ training camp in Nashville, Tenn., Alex Caruso didn’t rest on his laurels when asked what earning his first All-Defense team selection meant to him.

“You gotta do it again,” Caruso said back in October 2023.

Mission accomplished.

Caruso, the only player in the NBA with at least 100 steals and 70 blocks in 2023-24, landed on the second team after earning first team honors in 2022-23. This year marked the first where ballots were submitted regardless of position and where players had to meet the 65-game minimum requirement.

Previously, the All-Defense teams consisted of two guards, two forwards and a center.

Four centers---Miami’s Bam Adebayo, the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert of Minnesota and San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama---landed on the first team with New Orleans forward Herb Jones.

Caruso joined a perimeter-heavy second team comprised of Boston’s Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels and Orlando’s Jalen Suggs. He was the leading vote getter on the second team with 130 points, just 21 behind Anthony Davis.

Caruso led the NBA in deflections per game at 3.7, finished second in total deflections with 265, ranked seventh in loose balls recovered at 73 and contested 3-point shots at 221 and drew 12 charges. He finished fourth in total steals with 120 and tied for third with 1.7 steals per game.

"He's incredible," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of Caruso late in the 2023-24 season. "What he does is so unique. There's no one on our team that does what he does and there's probably not that many players in the league that does what he does."

Caruso, who already won the NBA’s Hustle Award this offseason, set career-highs in steals and blocks (70). He ranked third in the NBA with 37 games of at least two steals and tied for fourth in the league with 16 games of at least three steals.

Caruso poked some fun at the shift to positionless balloting on social media. His argument seems valid given the league's shift to a more perimeter-based attack and restrictions on defensive players' contact prohibiting driving.

Caruso appeared in 71 games, although only 67 met the criteria to be eligible for the 65-game minimum. Players had to play at least 20 minutes in a game to be counted, although two games of between 15 and 20 minutes were allowed.

He is the ninth Bull in franchise history with two or more All-Defensive selections and the fifth undrafted player in league history. Michael Jordan (nine), Scottie Pippen (eight), Norm Van Lier (seven), Jerry Sloan (six), Bob Love (three), Joakim Noah (three), Jimmy Butler (three) and Horace Grant (two) are the other franchise stalwarts with multiple defensive team recognitions.

Caruso talked about the 65-game minimum and his goals for the season back in that same training camp interview.

“I think every year I’ve played in the league, I’ve gotten better. And that’s something I pride myself on and I have to put that goal out there for myself to chase. So this year, I’m trying to chase that again---play more minutes, play more games, work on my prep before practices and games, recovery, nutrition, sleep,” he said. “Just being dedicated to that and improve that as much as I want to improve my 3-point percentage or my minutes-per-game or my assists percentage.”

Caruso also shot 40.8 percent from 3-point range on career-high volume of 4.7 attempts per game. His 136 makes more than doubled his previous high of 55.

But that’s offense, where Caruso averaged in double figures for the first time. Tuesday was about defense, an area where his excellence is becoming consistently recognized.

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