Name: Carlos Boozer
Weight: 266 pounds
Birth Date: November 20, 1981 (28 years old)
Birth Place: Aschaffenburg, West Germany
Nicknames: Carlos Bruiser
Drafted: 2002, second round, 34th overall by Cleveland
Experience: 8 seasons
Previous teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz
Expect: Rebounding, inside scoring, brutal screens
Don’t expect: Interior defense
Let’s get something straight: Carlos Boozer is an elite power forward. Easily among the very best…and a perfect fit for the Bulls. Just ask Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “[Boozer] sets screens, he gathers well and finishes expertly with either hand, and truly comes straight out of central casting for a team like Chicago.”
Here are Boozer’s significant NBA rankings from the 2009-10 season:
3rd in Double-Doubles (55 — trailing only Dwight Howard and Zach Randolph), 3rd in Defensive Rebounds (693), 3rd in Defensive Rebounds Per Game (8.9), 4th in Total Rebounds (874), 4th in Defensive Rebound Percentage (29.9), 4th in Total Rebound Percentage (19.4), 5th in Rebounds Per Game (11.2), 6th in Field Goal Percentage (a career-high .562), 9th in Effective Field Goal Percentage (.562), 9th in Defensive Win Shares (4.6), 14th in Total Win Shares (9.9), 15th in Player Efficiency Rating (21.3), 16th in True Shooting Percentage (.600), 16th in Defensive Rating (101.8 — tied with Pau Gasol and Anderson Varejao), 17th in Win Shares Per 48 Minutes, and 21st in Points Per Game (19.5).
Among the league’s power forwrds, his rankings are even more impressive:
1st in FGP, 1st in DRPG, 2nd in DRR, 3rd in RPG, 4th in REBR, 4th in Assists Per Game (3.2), 5th in PPG, 5th in PER, 6th in Steals Per Game (1.08), 6th in TS%, 7th in Usage Percentage, 7th in Value Added, 7th in Estimated Wins Added, 9th in Assist Ratio…
…I think you get the point. Boozer is pretty good.
It’s worth noting that the 2009-10 season was something of a comeback year for Boozer. Prior to that, he had suffered (literally) through two consecutive seaons of shrinking stats, due primarily to various injuries (ankle, calf, foot, hamstring, knee, quadriceps…). This — in addition to the ampe time he missed in 2004-05 (31 games) and 2005-06 (49 games) — earned Boozer a reputation as an injury-riddled player who had already peaked and was now in sharp decline.
Boozer then proved everybody wrong by appearing in 78 regular season games and an additional 10 playoff games, re-joining the select group of elite NBA power forwards. Bulls fans are hoping that wasn’t a case of Contract Year Phenomenon in action.
ESPN’s David Thorpe includes Boozer in his short list of the game’s most accomplished post players and ranks among the best at scoring around the basket with either hand: “Boozer can beat you both with feel and mechanics. His massive body provides all the space he needs, and his ambidexterity keeps his defender guessing which way he’ll turn. … Boozer has incredible touch turning or finishing in either direction. You cannot force him anywhere but backwards if you hope to slow him down.”
Boozer’s strength and offensive versatility make him a very high percentage shooter. Last season, Boozer hit an astouding 67.9 percent of his shots around the basket. Among power forwards, Boozer ranked 2nd behind coulda-been-a-Bull LaMarcus Aldridge (70.7 percent). He also ranked 3rd inside 10 feet (49.2 percent — behind only Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh), 7th from 10-15 feet (43.6 percent) and 5th from 16-23 feet (44 percent).
But are those numbers — particularly the “around the basket” stats — deceiving? According to ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh added the following: “According to Synergy, more than one-third of his scoring plays this past season came from the pick-and-roll or through a cut rewarded with a feed from Deron Williams. As a barrel-chested tank, Boozer is one of the best finishers off the pick-and-roll — he converted 106 of his 168 attempts resulting from Jerry Sloan’s signature play.”
Hoopdata provides an even more stunning view of Boozer’s scoring plays: 72.8 percent of Boozer’s shots at the rim where assisted. Nearly 70 percent of his shots inside of 10 feet were assisted. Over 65 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet were assisted. And 86 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet were assisted.
In other words: This big dog needs to be fed. Fortunately, Boozer has an All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose to set the table. And although it’s true that Boozer isn’t a back-to-the-basket-on-every-possession kind of guy, the fact is he can play in the post. And that’s an option that’s going to greatly benefit the Bulls’ offense.
According to ESPN’s John Hollinger: “Defensively, Boozer is average at best. Although his strength lets him push out opposing post players, he doesn’t have the length to challenge their shots, and his lateral movement is suspect. That hurts him in pick-and-roll defense and gives him trouble when he chases perimeter 4s around the 3-point line. He’s a good defensive rebounder, but he seldom blocks shots or takes charges, and his effort level has been questioned at times.”
So…Boozer kind of blows on defense?
According to Haberstroh…yes: “According to basketballvalue.com, the Jazz were nearly two points worse with Boozer on the court over the past two seasons, even after adjusting for the strength of his teammates and opponents. … It’s an irrefutable fact that the Jazz were better defensively without Boozer this past season. The Jazz allowed six more points every 100 possessions while Boozer was on the court relative to when he sat the bench. His offensive exploits failed to make up for his defensive deficiencies, as he improved the Jazz’s scoring by only four points — a net margin of minus-two points.”
Obviously, this is a concern. Maybe Tom Thibodeau will help. And maybe Joakim Noah will help as well. As Haberstroh pointed out: “The key to maximizing Boozer’s abilities will be pairing him up with an athletic big to clog the middle.”
Furthermore a league source said: “You need to pair him with a long athletic guy, whereas Lee and Stoudemire are really much more limited to being on an up-tempo team, and they need long, athletic defensive guys with them. And Boozer can do that for someone, and he’s a space eater. He’s a totally different cat.”
So there may be hope after all.
Warning — Handle with Care:
In six seasons with the Jazz, Boozer missed 138 games. That’s a lot. And I doubt there are many Bulls fans who aren’t worried about Boozer breaking down…especially after what they’ve been through with Luol Deng. I don’t know. Maybe we can keep him in a plastic bubble when he’s not playing.
We all know about how he allegedy stabbed the Cavaliers in the back (after an under-the-table handshake deal), and how he seemed to wear out his welcome in Utah. But wait. There’s more.
According to ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell: “As a quick aside, the day Boozer and the Bulls agreed to the deal, I was asked to go on a talk show in Salt Lake City. Granted, the hosts may have been a little biased in their assessment of his play, but the prevailing theory they had for Chicago fans was, ‘Buyer Beware.’ Boozer developed a reputation as a guy who didn’t always play through injuries and looked out for himself. The guys in Salt Lake City admitted that he was a great player, but they didn’t sound broken up that he was leaving.”
Fortunately, the leadership on this team will come from Rose and Noah.
Boozer is a primetime inside scorer and a league-leading rebounder. The Bulls will need a little luck for him to stay healthy, but if he does, he’s going to make his teammates (particularly Rose) better on the offensive end. And hopefully Thibs and Noah can make him a little more serviceable on the defensive end.
Watch Carlos give you some lesson on post play: