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How to lock down stars like Steph Curry and LaMelo Ball

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Defense may not be the flashiest part of the game, but that doesn't by any means make it not meaningful. On the contrary, defense wins championships and makes teams elite. In today's NBA, the offense is prioritized and great, but those two-way players that boost your defense still have a place in the league and play huge roles for their teams. One of those guys is Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso.

Beyond stats

Caruso made a name for himself with the Lakers, became a fan-favorite, and, eventually, a crucial part of the team before finally leaving to boost the Bulls this offseason. Halfway into the season, it's obvious the Lakers made a huge mistake, with the Bulls finding gold. 

The classic numbers don't jump off the board, averaging 8.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.9 apg, and 1.9 spg, but AC's impact is going beyond numbers. Coming off the bench, Caruso is doing his role on offense, providing a little bit of everything while serving as the primary perimeter defender, holding down the defensive side of the floor. A few unfortunate injuries have kept Alex off the floor this season, but opponents have struggled to do their thing while he has been playing. Some of these advanced defensive stats can give you some context:

2.2 Forced Turnovers per Game

9th in On-Ball Perimeter Pressure 

Holding matchups to 28.4% Shooting from Three

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8th in On-Ball Pressure

In case you don't know, these numbers put Caruso in the elite company of NBA defenders. And you can see it when watching games. The perfect mix of good size for the guard position, mobility, strength, and heart make Caruso a menace on that side of the floor.

How to stop Curry and LaMelo

In a recent piece for Bleacher Report, Caruso explained his mindset when guarding some of the stars of the game. Most notably one of the best players in the NBA, Steph Curry and the future of the league in LaMelo Ball:

"Steph's so random with it that my attention to detail and my sense of urgency is just always on 100. I'm just trying to stay even with him, kind of shadow him because he is so shifty, and he really likes those angles to create separation, he likes you to open up...I stay up because I know he likes to shoot 3's mostly. I'm trying to make him play off the dribble and get into the paint."

Alex Caruso, Bleacher Report

"I know Melo is super aggressive. I know he wants to go right. I'm sitting solid. I'm square. If he drives right, I got help there. I'm anticipating some type of countermove, some type of change of direction. I just kind of plant and hold my ground, knowing if he goes to me, I'm going to try and get a steal."

Alex Caruso, Bleacher Report

It's always great to see and hear someone who knows his stuff talk about the craft of defense. It's obvious Caruso takes a lot of pride and mental preparation into his defensive game, and hearing him break down guarding some of the best in the game is eye-opening. Defense might not be as fun as offense, but like Alex said at the end of the video. If you want to get on the court, you have to play on both sides of the floor.

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