Bulls' fan favorite Alex Caruso dishes on passing, LeBron effect

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Bulls' fan favorite Caruso dishes on passing ability originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

That gesture Alex Caruso made when he dropped a no-look pass for DeMar DeRozan to dunk home, the one where Caruso placed circles around his eyes?

You can thank former Bulls guard Rajon Rondo for that.

“It’s like seeing through binoculars,” Caruso said following Thursday’s Bulls practice at the Advocate Center. “It’s like a vision thing when you throw a good pass.”

Caruso threw a lot of them in Tuesday’s preseason opener, finishing with 10 assists in just 20 minutes. And while fans probably shouldn’t expect double-digit assists every game — “Yeah, you should not,” the self-deprecating Caruso cracked — this is not just a defensive-minded player.

His court vision and shotmaking should endear the headband-laden Caruso to a fan base that already seems poised to embrace him.

“It’s just making reads,” Caruso said. “If you get 10 assists, it just means somebody is making shots.

“We just have good chemistry, I think. So far through our few weeks of being together, we kind of know how everybody plays. I’ve spoken about it before, but having guys like Zach (LaVine), DeMar, Vooch (Nikola Vučević), who are really unselfish All-Stars and important players in this league, makes it easy for everyone else to fall in line and do that. Everybody knows Zo (Lonzo Ball) is really unselfish and a great passer and facilitator. I think I’m a pretty good passer too. So if we get stops and get out in transition, it’s going to be pretty easy and pretty successful for us.”

Caruso drew one of the loudest ovations of the night when he checked in to make his Bulls debut. Given how much Laker Nation loved him, Caruso mostly took the reception in stride, even as he flashed the perspective that gives insight into how he moved from a G-League player to one who signed a four-year, $37 million this offseason.

“Yeah, that’s just kind of my career at this point. Everybody just kind of likes watching me play. Whether they’re cheering for me out of sarcasm or actual fandom or whatever it is, it comes with it,” Caruso said. “I was a little surprised it was as loud when I first came in. I would like it to be a little more warranted with some success and winning. But hopefully we’ll get to that point.”

Caruso knows a little something about winning. He not only won a championship with the Lakers, but became one of LeBron James’ most trusted sidekicks along the ride.

“He just makes the game so much easier for everybody,” Caruso said. “Me and him, we just have a special connection of how we see the game. We do a good job of manipulating the defense and understanding how people are playing the game. Just taking advantage of the game and finding ways to win. And competitors, too, we connected on that.

“I owe a lot to him for where I am today. Obviously, I put a lot of work in, but he makes me look good. He makes the team look good. When you win, everybody gets paid. Everybody gets to do a job. Being part of his legacy and being a part of that team for the last couple years was fun for me.”

Caruso said rookie Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White and Patrick Williams all have asked him plenty of questions about his championship experience. Caruso is more than willing to share any tips. After all, it’s his way of paying forward what he learned from his Lakers stint.

“Anytime LeBron is on your team, you’re playing for a championship. It’s not a secret. If he’s on your team, it’s pretty much like you go to the Finals and try to win a championship. If you don’t win it, it’s kind of a failure. That’s kind of the ridiculous status quo that he has put upon himself after so many years of success,” Caruso said. “Just being around that kind of atmosphere, day in and day out, and being around older guys who have been around the league and won championships like LeBron, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, you could just see there was a different type of mantra to them. How they carried themselves. How they competed. How they played. It was something I was just fortunate to be a part of.”

Caruso called Rondo one of his “favorite teammates ever” and agreed with the popular theory that Rondo would make a good NBA head coach one day should he choose to pursue that route.

“He’s too smart for his own good,” Caruso said.

Speaking of smart, Caruso won’t reveal where he keeps his championship ring.

“It is in my possession. I will not disclose where that was just because I know people read y’all’s columns. And it’s a very prized possession,” Caruso said, smiling. “But it is in the possession of the Caruso family.”

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