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Bulls’ Alex Caruso Jokes Guards Were Relegated to NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team

In a season marked by significant changes to the NBA’s awards system, Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso found himself on the NBA All-Defensive second team, a result that seemed to highlight the evolving landscape of NBA accolades. Caruso, known for his defensive prowess, was one of the few guards to make the list, sparking conversations about the impact of the league’s new positionless awards system.

The Game and the New System

Caruso’s reaction came after the NBA announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2023-24 season. The first team featured players like Rudy Gobert, Victor Wembanyama, Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo, and Herb Jones. Notably, Herb Jones, at 6’7″, was the smallest player on the first team and the only one not predominantly playing center. The second team, by contrast, was populated with more traditional guards and included Jaden McDaniels, who stood at 6’9″ and was the tallest player on the second team by a significant margin.

Caruso, standing at 6’5″, was the only guard on the second team to receive more than 20 first-team votes, a testament to his defensive skills and impact on the court. His inclusion in the second team underscored the shift in the NBA’s approach to awards, which moved away from traditional positional designations.

Revamped Awards Criteria

The NBA’s decision to revamp its awards system for the 2023-24 season was driven by a desire to more accurately reflect the versatility and evolving roles of players in the modern game. Under the new rules, players must play in at least 65 games to be eligible for any postseason award or team. More significantly, the league adopted a positionless approach when determining All-NBA, All-Defensive, and All-Rookie teams. This change meant that the traditional constraints of selecting two centers, four forwards, and four guards were abandoned, allowing for greater flexibility in recognizing the best players, regardless of their position.

Impact on Player Recognition

The changes had a notable impact on how players were recognized for their contributions, particularly on the defensive end. Caruso, who would have been a virtual lock for a first-team selection under the previous system, found himself on the second team despite receiving substantial first-team votes. This shift highlighted the increased competition and the broader pool of players considered for the top defensive honors.

Caruso’s performance throughout the season demonstrated his value as a premier defender. His ability to guard multiple positions, disrupt offensive plays, and contribute to the Bulls’ defensive schemes made him a standout candidate for the All-Defensive teams. However, the new positionless criteria meant that his achievements were measured against a wider array of players, including taller forwards and centers who traditionally dominated the first-team selections.

Player Reactions and Insights

Caruso’s reaction to the announcement was lighthearted, yet it reflected a deeper sentiment among guards who felt overshadowed by the changes. The new system, while innovative, raised questions about how guards would be evaluated against players who typically have different roles and responsibilities on the court. Caruso’s joke about guards being relegated to the second team resonated with fans and analysts who recognized the unique challenges faced by perimeter defenders in the new era of positionless awards.

Analysis of the All-Defensive Teams

The composition of the All-Defensive first team, featuring towering players like Gobert, Wembanyama, Davis, and Adebayo, emphasized the importance of rim protection and interior defense. Herb Jones’ inclusion as the only non-center on the first team highlighted his exceptional defensive versatility and ability to guard multiple positions effectively.

The second team, with players like Caruso, underscored the value of perimeter defense and the critical role guards play in disrupting opposing offenses. Jaden McDaniels’ presence on the second team as the tallest player reflected the league’s recognition of his defensive capabilities, despite the traditional guard-heavy composition of the second team.


The NBA’s shift to a positionless awards system represents a significant evolution in how player contributions are recognized and celebrated. For players like Alex Caruso, the changes present both challenges and opportunities. While the new criteria may make it harder for guards to secure first-team honors, it also broadens the scope for recognizing the diverse talents and defensive skills that players bring to the court.

As the league continues to adapt and refine its awards system, the experiences and reactions of players like Caruso will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and fairness of these changes. Ultimately, the goal remains to honor the best players in the league, regardless of their position, and to celebrate the unique contributions they make to the game of basketball.

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