Bulls coach Billy Donovan not worried about Alex Caruso’s shooting woes

The guard has had a career of streaky seasons, and while the start of the 2022-23 campaign hasn’t looked good for Caruso on the offensive end, Donovan sees it turning around sooner than later.

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Bulls head coach Billy Donovan talks with Alex Caruso during the second half of Monday’s game against the Raptors.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan talks with Alex Caruso during the second half of Monday’s game against the Raptors.

Paul Beaty/AP

Bulls guard Alex Caruso went a dismal 1-for-11 from the field Sunday against the Raptors in the first game of the teams’ home-and-home, including 0-for-6 from three-point range, although he also had 11 rebounds and 11 assists and finished a plus-15.

“You still know he’s doing other things out there to impact the team,’’ coach Billy Donovan said.

But his offense hasn’t been a big part of it.

Caruso, who finished with four points, six rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes in Monday’s rematch, came into training camp telling reporters he wanted to be more of an offensive threat, especially with all the attention being showered on teammates 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 [Nikola Vucevic], and just the ball being sprayed out to him.”

That part of the equation is working: the ball being sprayed in Caruso’s direction. The issue is him making the shots. After shooting 39.8% from the field last season and 33.3% from three-point range, Caruso was at a career-low 32.7% from the field and 30% from three-point range through the first 11 games this season.

Donovan wasn’t too concerned, given it’s such a small sample size.

“I don’t want to read too much into it,” he said. “I like the shots he’s getting. I like the shots he’s taking. He just hasn’t shot the ball well.”

Asked if Caruso had tweaked anything with his mechanics, Donovan didn’t think so.

“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.”

Fortunately for the Bulls, Caruso has a history of being streaky throughout his career. He shot 41.2% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range in the 2019-20 season with the Lakers but came back the next season and shot 43.6% and 40.1%, respectively.

Not so fast for Drummond

There was hope before the game Monday that veteran big man Andre Drummond could return from a sprained left shoulder, but his momentum was halted when he tried to get through the pregame warmup. His range of motion is still an issue and forced him to miss his sixth straight game.

Donovan thinks there’s a decent chance Drummond will play Wednesday. The same couldn’t be said for guard Coby White, who was still working through a deep thigh bruise with no estimated return date. Monday’s game was the fifth straight White missed.

“You can’t hold your head at all,” DeRozan said of the Bulls’ 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.”

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