Bulls’ Alex Caruso focusing on durability this NBA offseason

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Bulls’ Caruso focusing on durability this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Alex Caruso broke up the NBA offseason grind last weekend by participating in the star-studded ​​American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

But make no mistake: His focus is on the 2022-23 season, a pivotal one for the Chicago Bulls.

Speaking on the Bulls Talk Podcast, Caruso offered insight into his offseason training regimen and what he is prioritizing entering his sixth year in the league.

“Just trying to gain a little weight, a little muscle on the lower extremities, a little bit on my back,” he said. “And then just, you know, grinding on my game. I've been in the gym (for the) last month, month and a half. Look forward to getting back out there after a little vacay here in Tahoe.”

In addition to skill refinement, Caruso added that he is focused on improving his body “so I can withstand 30 minutes a night for a full season.”

Injuries, of course, were a bugaboo for a Bulls team that started the 2021-22 season strong but fizzled down the stretch en route to a first-round rout at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Caruso was a big part of the team’s early-season success, but had a variety of different ailments derail what was shaping up to be a career year. A bout of right hamstring soreness sidelined him for two games in December. Three games after returning from that, a left foot sprain and stint in COVID-19 protocols forced him out of 13 more. Then, two games after that return, he fractured his right wrist on a flagrant foul by Bucks guard Grayson Allen, which kept him out 22 games. And after returning from that injury — before rehabbing to 100 percent health — he had back spasms that limited his effectiveness and eventually caused him to miss the final three games of the regular season.

In all, Caruso appeared in 41 of 82 regular-season games and four of five in the playoffs before suffering a concussion in the first half of Game 4 of the Bucks series.

In a perhaps related development, Caruso also averaged a career-high 28 minutes per game in 2021-22 (his previous career high was 21.2). While his production and defensive activity level only increased in a larger role, it is certainly difficult to play the reckless abandon style that makes him unique and not run into bumps and bruises here and there. And his responsibilities should only grow in his second season with the franchise.

This isn’t the first time Caruso has noted a desire to improve his durability. At his end-of-season press conference with reporters in April, he said the following about his exit interview with the front office:

“I talked to them about some of the goals I have as far as physically being able to play as many games as I can next year. Obviously a broken wrist, a concussion, those things are out of my control. But the little nagging muscle injuries and stuff like that, take care of that to make sure that I can be out there for my team.”

The team certainly needs him to play best to its preferred high-pace, defensively disruptive identity.

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.

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