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Bulls' Alex Caruso wins 2023-24 NBA Hustle Award

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Alex Caruso led the NBA in deflections per game, a sign of his defensive disruptor skillset.

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso has been named the winner of the 2023-24 NBA Hustle Award, the league announced on Thursday. Caruso becomes the second Bulls player to win the award, joining Thaddeus Young in 2020-21.


NBA Hustle Award Winners

YearWinnerTeam2023-24Alex CarusoChicago Bulls2022-23Marcus SmartBoston Celtics2021-22Marcus SmartBoston Celtics2020-21Thaddeus YoungChicago Bulls2019-20Montrezl HarrellLA Clippers2018-19Marcus SmartBoston Celtics2017-18Amir JohnsonPhiladelphia 76ers2016-17Patrick BeverleyHouston Rockets

The NBA Hustle Award honors players who make the effort plays that don’t often appear in the traditional box score but impact winning on a nightly basis.

Hustle stats – including deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn, screen assists, contested shots and box-outs – have been tracked by the NBA since the 2016 Playoffs and can be viewed on an individual and team level on NBA.com/Stats.

Alex Caruso’s Hustle Stats and Rankings

CategoryPer GameRankPer MinuteRankDeflections3.71st0.12991stLoose Balls Recovered1.05th0.03581stCharges Drawn0.177th0.00597thContested Shots5.060th0.175051stScreen Assists0.561st0.018658thBox Outs0.489th0.014288th

Note: Rankings among the 147 eligible players that played a minimum of 58 games (70% of team total of 82) and at least 24 minutes per game. Hustle Stats are measured on a per-minute basis to even the comparison among players that play varying amounts of minutes per game.

An All-Defensive First Team selection in 2022-23, Caruso’s hustle stats illustrate why he is considered one of the league’s top perimeter defenders.

Caruso, who finished fourth in the league in steals (1.7 per game), led all players in deflections (3.7 per game), which disrupt the flow of the opposing team’s offense even if it does not lead directly to a steal or turnover.

Individual sacrifice is a key component for a player who displays great hustle.

A willingness to dive on the floor to secure 50-50 balls to earn more possessions – Caruso ranked fourth in loose balls recovered per game (1.0) and first on a per-minute basis (0.0358).

A willingness to step in front of a player driving toward the basket to take a charge – Caruso ranked ninth in total charges drawn (12) and seventh per game (0.17).

When he wasn’t able to force turnovers, Caruso made sure to challenge his opponent’s shot attempts. He ranked 60th overall in contested shots (5.0 per game), and sixth in contested 3-pointers (3.1 per game).

Opposing players shot below their normal average from every measurable distance when being defended by Caruso: down 2.4% overall, down 1.3% from 3-point range and down 5.6% from inside six feet.

In his seventh NBA season, Caruso posted career-highs in scoring (10.1 ppg), rebounding (3.8 rpg), 3-pointers made (1.9), field goal percentage (46.8), 3-point percentage (40.8, 31st in NBA) and blocks (1.0 per game).

He matched his career-high in steals (1.7, 4th in NBA) and was one of two guards (along with Derrick White) to average at least one steal and block this season.

But those numbers don’t come close to measuring Caruso’s impact on the game for the Bulls. When he was on the court, Chicago posted a defensive rating of 110.6, which matches the second-best defense in the league. When he was off the court, Chicago’s defensive rating dropped to 117, which would rank 24th.

His energy plays, the sacrifices he makes for his teammates and the all-out effort in which he competes may not always appear in the traditional box score, bu it helped Caruso earn his first NBA Hustle Award.

2023-24 Hustle Award Top Five Finishers

FinishPlayerTeamPosition1Alex CarusoChicagoGuard2Scottie BarnesTorontoForward/Guard3Brandin PodziemskiGolden StateGuard4Luguentz DortOklahoma CityGuard5Grant WilliamsCharlotteForward

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