With a 3-3 record through six games, the Chicago Bulls are currently treading water through their November schedule. If they wish to break through the veil of mediocrity, they’re going to rely heavily on an improved level of play from a handful of early underperformers this month.
Looking ahead to the remaining monthly schedule, the Bulls are scheduled to take on two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic’s Nuggets, then on to games against New Orleans and Boston (each of whom have recently defeated Chicago), before finishing things off against the NBA’s current top-two teams in Milwaukee and Utah.
With such a daunting slate of games laying ahead, Chicago is going to need more from a select few players that have gotten off to a rocky start. Here are the players most worth watching for improvement as we progress through the year.
The Chicago Bulls will need a few key players to step up to close out their November schedule.
3. Alex Caruso
The emergence of Alex Caruso was undoubtedly one of the feel-good stories for the Chicago Bulls in 2021-22, as he signed a lengthy four-year deal for just the Mid-Level Exception. Even considering his relatively affordable contract, the Lakers refused to match Chicago’s offer in favor of their pursuit of Russell Westbrook.
Looking back, that was obviously an awful decision, particularly after witnessing Westbrook’s rapid decline. While last season was a resounding success for Caruso, however, he’s gotten off to a lethargic start on offense this season.
Through six games in November, Caruso is averaging a horrendous 3.8 points on 29.2% shooting from the field. The nature of the shots he’s missing is inexplicable as well, as most of these misses are coming off open 3-point attempts and drives to the hoop. These are the same shots he’s had no difficulty making during his last two seasons in Chicago and LA, so here’s to hoping he turns it around soon.
Fortunately, Caruso is talented enough to make a positive impact on the game even when his shot isn’t falling. Despite his terrible offensive showing, he’s affecting the game in other ways, as seen by his incredible performance against Toronto on November 6, where he logged 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. This is why Caruso is still tied with Goran Dragic for a team-high +43 plus/minus in November, proving he’s earned his minutes even while in the midst of a scoring slump.