FINALLY: Alex Caruso Named to All-Defensive First Team!

For the first time in his career, Alex Caruso has been named to an All-Defensive Team.

The Chicago Bulls guard has turned himself into one of the NBA’s elite defenders over the past several seasons. And he’s now been recognized for his efforts with a First Team selection, joining Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez, Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley, per the NBA’s official announcement.

He’s the first Bulls player since Joakim Noah in 2013-14 to receive the honor. He’s also only the seventh Bull in franchise history to make the cut.

The league also released the members of the All-Defense Second Team on Tuesday. Boston’s Derrick White, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Toronto’s OG Anunoby, Memphis’ Dillon Brooks, and Miami’s Bam Adebayo made the list.

You can view the NBA’s complete voting results here. Caruso finished with the 4th-most first-team votes. The Bulls’ Patrick Beverley also received one second-team vote.

All things considered, Caruso’s position for an All-Defensive honor felt a bit unclear. We discussed earlier this season how rarely we see players on losing teams receive this level of recognition. However, as the voting showed, there was no denying Caruso’s greatness on that end of the floor.

Caruso took on some of the toughest assignments on a night-to-night basis – regardless of the opposing player’s designated position. He was undoubtedly the catalyst for the team’s top-5 defensive rating. We shared some of his individual stats from this season in a previous post about the Defensive Player of the Year ballot, so I’ll re-share some words from that below:

Dunks & Threes gave him a +4.1 estimated defensive plus-minus on the season, which sits comfortably at the top of the league. He was one of only four players to finish with at least 98 steals and 46 blocks on the year (OG Anunoby, Anthony Edwards, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander). Caruso also finished 6th in total deflections and top-15 in total charges.

Overall, the Bulls’ defense allowed -6.9 points per 100 possessions when Caruso was on the floor, which ranked in the NBA’s 94th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass. They also saw their TOV% rise by +3.4 percent, which sat in the 97th percentile.

I also highly recommend revisiting our post here for a look at how many big names he shut down.

Overall, Caruso is now the first player since Andrei Kirilenko in 2005-06 to make an All-Defensive Team without making the playoffs. Congrats to the Carushow, and I can’t wait to see him do it again next year!

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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