It was quite the stat line for Alex Caruso on Sunday.
The guard went a dismal 1-for-11 from the field, including an 0-for-6 from three-point range, but had 11 rebounds and 11 assists, while finishing with a plus-15 in the plus-minus category.
“You still know he’s doing other things out there to impact the team,” coach Billy Donovan said of Caruso’s performance.
What hasn’t impacted the team so far this season, however, has been his offense.
Caruso came into training camp letting the media know that he wanted to be more of a threat on that side of the ball, especially with all the attention being thrown at his teammates like DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.
Donovan was all for it.
“We had talked over the summer and one of the things he really tried to put a huge focus on was improving his shooting,” Donovan said. “He felt that was something he could help the team with, with Zach and Vooch [Nikola Vucevic], and just the ball being sprayed out to him.”
That part of the equation is working, with the ball being sprayed in his direction. The issue is the making it part for Caruso.
After shooting 39.8% from the field last season, as well as 33.3% from three, through the first 11 games in the 2022-23 campaign Caruso was at a career-low 32.7% from the field and 30% from three.
A concern for Donovan? Not with such a small sample size.
“I don’t want to read too much into it,” Donovan said. “I like the shots he’s getting, I like the shots he’s taking, he just hasn’t shot the ball well.”
Donovan was asked if Caruso had tweaked anything with his mechanics, and didn’t think that was the case.
“I know he’s worked hard on it, and he puts the time in,” Donovan said. “He shoots before practice, after practice, so he’s had some good looks and we’ve got to continue to encourage him to take those shots when they’re there.”
The good news for the Bulls is Caruso has proven to be streaky throughout his career. In the 2019-20 season with the Lakers, he shot 41.2% from the field and 33.3% from three, and then came back a season later and went 43.6% and 40.1%, respectively.
The training room
There was momentum building before the game with the Raptors that Andre Drummond could make his return from a sprained left shoulder, but by the time the veteran big man tried to get through the pre-game warm-up that momentum halted.
The range of motion was still an issue, forcing Drummond to miss his sixth-straight game with the injury.
The good news was he was moving closer to a return, with Donovan eyeing Wednesday as a decent chance.
The same couldn’t be said for Coby White, who was still working through a deep thigh contusion, and didn’t have a timetable for a return. Monday was the fifth-straight game White missed.
“You can’t hold your head at all,” DeRozan said of all the early-season injury issues. “Nothing ever goes as ideal as you want it to go. That’s just part of life. We’re a team and everyone has to have the approach that nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”