Bulls: 3 reasons Alex Caruso should start if Lonzo isn’t ready for opener

Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

2. Alex Caruso’s defensive impact

When it comes to replicating Lonzo’s immense defensive presence on the perimeter, only one player on the Bulls comes even close. Caruso, of course, is the Bulls’ best option at point guard if the team is concerned about the starting unit’s ability to keep games close in the absence of Ball.

It’s true that no singular defensive statistic tells the full story when it comes to the league’s top defenders, but we can pull from a variety of sources to pinpoint who the league’s elite defenders are. CraftedDPM is a defensive impact rating that amalgamates popular (and complicated) advanced metrics such as DBPM, DRAPTOR, DLEBRON, and DDARKO to avoid any biases in any one particular stat and overall paints a more generalized and accurate picture.

To no surprise, Caruso has the highest CraftedDPM of any guard in the entire NBA and ranks seventh among all players in the league (min. 1000 minutes played). Only Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, Al Horford, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Robert Covington rank higher, certainly great company to be keeping.

Gary Payton Jr. is the next most impactful guard, ranking 21st among all players. Lonzo Ball himself comes in at 27th on the list. Even Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart was the 40th most impactful defender last season according to the advanced metrics. If that doesn’t show you how wide of a discrepancy there is between Caruso and a replacement level guard, I don’t know what will.

There’s a reason why Caruso was leading the league in steals for a solid portion of the season, racking up entire highlight reels on defense, and inserting his name in the DPOY conversation before the injury. The Chicago Bulls will absolutely need Caruso as a defensive anchor on the perimeter if they are to make a deep run next season.