Bulls' Alex Caruso-Patrick Beverley pairing can mimic Caruso-Lonzo Ball

How Caruso-Beverley pairing can mimic Caruso-Ball originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Granted, Alex Caruso and Patrick Beverley only have started one game together.

And a blowout victory over a rebuilding Brooklyn Nets team in which the Chicago Bulls led by as many as 50 points can place rose-colored glasses on certain situations.

But with the Bulls’ defensive rating surprisingly climbing to sixth following a banner month, it’s easy to picture Caruso and Beverley teaming up to create somewhat similar havoc to what Caruso produced alongside Lonzo Ball.

“It just makes it easy,” Caruso said of starting alongside another vocal, committed defender. “That’s something we needed a little more of, guys who are vocal and who are energy givers. That’s why he’s been in the league as long as he has, made as many All-Defensive teams as he has. He knows the game and he’s just a good player.

“He has a really high defensive IQ. I think having me and him out there together being able to orchestrate where guys need to go, calling out plays, impact the ball can help. Lonzo and I had great synergy last year as far as being to play off each other and wreaking havoc for the other guys.”

Coach Billy Donovan acknowledged the Nets’ smaller starting lineup helped starting Caruso at power forward. But Caruso has played that position before for the Bulls, particularly in closing lineups.

“There may be games where would Patrick (Williams) be a better matchup potentially on (Karl-Anthony) Towns if he and (Rudy) Gobert are playing together? Possibly,” Donovan said. “It’s all what kind of schemes are you going to have built in around him. But I really feel comfortable with Alex guarding one through four. He’s good in the post. He’ll block out. If he doesn’t get the ball, he can keep his man off the glass.”

In fact, Beverley cited Caruso’s strong defensive rebounding instincts in his postgame comments Friday. More important, Beverley’s addition adds another like-minded and similarly vocal defender.

“A lot of times when you’re starting games---and Ayo (Dosunmu) and Patrick (Williams) have been terrific defensively as well---Alex’s and Pat’s experience, their verbal communication and dialogue helps the group. There’s a lot of good talk. They’re solving problems, figuring things out. And the more communication there is, the better it is.”

And about that second unit: Caruso, like Donovan on Friday night, thought Dosunmu, Williams and Coby White played with good connectivity at both ends. Again, it’s only one game. But you certainly can see the potential of both new-look units.

Ball long has been labeled as a connecting piece. Beverley plays a similar game, and it’s showing the potential to more properly align Donovan’s rotations.

“He’s kind of like me in the sense he might only take three shots, five shots, but the other stuff he does really impacts the game. And that’s the stuff that helps your teammates, gives energy to them,” Caruso said of Beverley. “Little plays that may go unnoticed---boxouts, making rotations, guarding the ball so nobody has to help, stuff like that.

“We seemed to play well off each other energy-wise. You add another good basketball IQ, vet, guy who knows the game and knows how to play off other guys and he’s as advertised. Everyone knows what he’s capable of and what he brings to the table. That’s what he did and it’s something that can benefit the club.”

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