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“Part of that, I’ll credit to Rondo and LeBron” - Alex Caruso talks about his defensive instincts partly learned from playing with LeBron James and Rajon Rondo

Alex Caruso's defensive instincts have been in full display this season with the Chicago Bulls. [Photo: Lakers Daily]
Alex Caruso's defensive instincts have been in full display this season with the Chicago Bulls. [Photo: Lakers Daily]
Michael Macasero
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Alex Caruso moved on from the Los Angeles Lakers and took his talents to Windy City and the Chicago Bulls. He is playing at a very high level right now and has become a better player than he was with the Lakers. Part of what makes him better than last season was the lessons on defense he learned from LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.

In an episode of The Old Man and the Three, Alex Caruso explained to JJ Redick how he’s playing suffocating defense for the Chicago Bulls. The five-year veteran ranks second in the NBA in steals per game with 2.5 and deflections per contest with 4.5.

Here’s how he elaborated on his defensive instincts to Redick:

“It’s like the difference between thinking and knowing. If you have to think about what’s going on, you’re gonna be a half-second slow coz you have to process it. Now you’re telling your body what to do. If you know what’s going on, that extra .7 seconds, I’m already stepping one way or I'm already rotating to somebody. Part of that, I’ll credit that to Rondo and LeBron, man.”
Alex Caruso on what he learned from LeBron that he brought w/ him to Chicago. https://t.co/C4slambnSH

Rondo and LeBron James’ basketball IQ are well-documented. It’s part of the reason why after years of fierce rivalries between their respective teams, they have become appreciative of each others’ abilities.

Alex Caruso expounded more on what he was trying to take with him to the Chicago Bulls after leaving the Lakers.

They are just so smart. Seeing them operate for a couple of years and seeing how they would communicate, think, point and tell people where to go before stuff happens. I try to take a little of that with me and obviously I’m gonna get better at it the more I’m away from them. I kind of put pressure on myself to be good at it… They know what’s going on. It’s like chess. They’re two moves ahead," added Caruso.

The NBA and Chicago Bulls fans are ecstatic with Alex Caruso’s energy, passion and instincts, particularly on defense. Together with Lonzo Ball, they have made the Bulls’ backcourt one of the toughest to score against. Those lessons learned from watching two of the smartest basketball players in the league have served AC well.


Can the Chicago Bulls and Alex Caruso maintain their newfound defensive identity?

Alex Caruso and the Chicago Bulls are using defense as the key to get into the playoffs for the first time in four years. [Photo: CBS Sports]
Alex Caruso and the Chicago Bulls are using defense as the key to get into the playoffs for the first time in four years. [Photo: CBS Sports]

Last season, the Chicago Bulls had a defensive rating of 111.5. In twelve games this year, they are at 104.5 even after the thrashing they got from Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Twelve games is a small sample size, but it seems like the entire team has totally bought into the plan of getting better on defense.

Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso by the numbers: Chicago Bulls duo is wreaking havoc on both endscbssports.com/nba/news/lonzo…

Some of the Bulls players who were not known to put effort and energy on defense are doing so with gusto this season. DeMar DeRozan, who has been unfairly criticized for his lack of defensive instincts and determination, has been solid so far. His work as the Bull’s small-ball power forward on both ends of the floor has greatly helped the team.


Edited by Parimal
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