By The Horns reader Tae writes: “Why is Taj Gibson not playing way more minutes? He’s outperformed his counterpart 3 out of 4 games in both ends of the floor, yet Boozer is the one still out there. Did I miss something that we reward crappy play, or did Boozer decide he’s going to take his yearly playoff break early?”
Boozer is struggling to score the basketball. There’s no denying that. In 34 MPG, Boozington is averaging 12.0 PPG on 37.5 percent shooting and has accumulated a dismal Offensive Rating of 87. Those numbers are profoundly disappointing considering he is (in theory) the team’s second offensive option.
Still, it may be worth looking past what Carlos isn’t doing (scoring) to focus on what he is doing (rebounding). Boozer currently ranks third in playoff RPG (11.5) and seventh in RP48 (16.2). He’s second in total rebounds (46) to Dwight Howard (70). And it’s worth noting that Howard is playing 45 MPG. He also ranks fifth in Defensive Rebound Percentage (25.9) and sixth in Total Rebound Percentage (18.7).
So, at the very least, Boozer is hitting the boards.
Beyond that, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is sticking with Boozer because he has to. Not because of some managerial mandate, but because Carlos is (in theory) a more potent offensive option than Gibson. It’s true that Boozer is playing poorly on the offensive end right now. That said, it seems more likely (I hope) that Carlos will break out of his slump than Gibson suddenly developing a well-rounded offensive game. At this point, Taj is mostly a spot up shooter. Boozer’s skill set is more diverse.
Now, people will argue that Boozer disappears in the playoffs, and he’s certainly not proving them wrong right now. But the fact remains that, if the Bulls are going to make any real noise in these playoffs, they absolutley must get consistent scoring (particularly on the interior) from Boozer. And benching him won’t make that happen.
Now Boozer just has to perform…