The 12 Days of Bullsmas. Day 5: Carlos Boozer

Posted: December 17, 2011 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Basketball, NBA
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Moe Rubio is going through the gauntlet and will post a Bulls related post every day for 12 days.

I like Carlos Boozer. He seems like a genuinely fun dude the way he is constantly yelling and screaming. I see basketball joy when I watch him play, it’s very evident in the way he carries himself on the court. This rubs a lot of Bulls fans the wrong way, but not me. I still like it when players look like they are having fun out there from time to time.

This is why it pained me so much when Psycho T made sweet sweet love to him in Game 1 of the playoffs last year. Stupid hustle jumpshot after hustle jumpshot went in as a bewildered Boozer looked on, perhaps confused, but mainly just helpless. The man has every offensive post move in the book, but he struggles only slightly less than a traffic cone would on defense.

This boggles my mind. Carlos Boozer looks like an absolute badass. He is a wide body who has tattoo sleeves and a face made for a biker. He looks like he should be a defensive menace and a power post player. Turns out Lord Boozington is a finesse player, which is not what I was expecting at all from him.

it’s either this or the inevitable visual comparison to an Angry Bird, which you can now never unsee.

The Bulls signed Carlos Boozer to a max free agent contract to put up his typical numbers in the playoffs, his entire purpose was to alleviate the scoring burden from the game’s brightest young point guard and provide that much needed post presence. The Bulls offense is predicated on a high pick and roll or pick and pop game that starts with Rose at the top of the key and expands from there. Boozer’s role was to be a guy that can hit the mid range or establish post position and create better floor spacing for Rose.

The only way that Rose can wreak havoc is if his drive lane is clear, and the way the Bulls sought to accomplish that goal was to have a solid post player work on the opposite side of Rose and have his defender commit to him. Boozer does that, and it was clear early in the 2010-2011 regular season that the Bulls were much improved with him on the court.

The Bulls did not come out of that particular gate strong, Boozer missed significant time after he hurt his wrist in some mysterious way (don’t ever believe that stupid gym bag story), but when he was in, the offense settled, and even his much maligned defense seemed to be covered up by the rest of the team.

The warning signs were there though, he fell in love with a fadeaway jumper that he works out of the post and he was rarely in the right spot defensively or he was late in rotating over on screens. The Tom Thibodeau defense isn’t about individual defenders, and that’s the beauty of the whole thing really.

In Boston neither Ray Allen nor Paul Pierce were considered particularly great defenders, yet with the simple addition of KG and with the coaching of Mr. Thibs, the Celtics were regarded as the best defensive team in the league. Thibs moves to Chicago, and even with Derrick Rose, who heading into the 2010-2011 season was a pretty terrible defender, and Carlos Boozer, always regarded as a bad defensive player, the Bulls become the best defense in the league.

The reason why is that the Thibs defense is a shape, one that needs to maintain it’s general outline in order to succeed. Boozer’s problems on the defensive end were masked by the scheme. It didn’t matter as much during the regular season that he was late in rotating over because, well, the guys he was late to defend were not sure bets to hit the open mid range jumper anyway.

Later into the season a movement began with Bulls fans to start Taj Gibson as most of us were feeling a twinge of buyer’s remorse with the current product. Gibson is a willing and able defender, and he can occasionally hit the open 22 foot jumper, but in order for the Bulls to succeed, Boozer needs to be brilliant in the post season.

It appears that he got the message too as he reported to camp 20 lbs. lighter. Memories of Bosh and Tyler “Beaker” Hansbrough absolutely lighting him up are fresh in my mind, and Boozer proving ground has shifted from the relatively meaningless regular season to the biggest stage basketball has to offer.

That would be Tyler Hansbrough and his doppelganger Beaker. Enjoy another thing you can’t unsee.

That’s what happens when you become a title contender, it’s no longer cute to put up numbers in the regular season, you have to preform when it matters. With Eastern Conference superiority on the line, Boozer must show that he’s a better player than the 12 pts. and 9 rebounds he averaged during the playoffs. He has to be effective on the block and he has to be better on defense.

Chris Bosh will hit the unguarded jump shot, ditto with most anyone else the Heat feel like throwing on the court (well, maybe not Udonis Haslem). Boozer’s a yeller, if you listen closely enough during Bulls games, you’ll hear a myriad of things, including but not limited to; “Gimme dat!” “Yeah Jo!” “AND ONE!” That act will start to wear thin with teammates if his defensive effort isn’t there, and it will get really old if he pulls the disappearing act in the playoffs again.

Rose is going to need a lot of help this year, the Knicks took a step forward, the Nets are looking to acquire Dwight Howard and team him up with Deron Williams, and the Heat aren’t going to get worse anytime soon (barring an injury or a catastrophic plane crash), and it looks like the Bulls are dancing with the crew that brought them to the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Boozer can be the loud finesse player if he wants, he just has to show the desire to play defense this year before I start trusting him again.

The fortunes of the Bulls aren’t completely in the hands of one individual. The collective needs to perform at a high level for this to all work. It happened in Dallas last year, but remember, their Derrick Rose is 7 ft. tall.

  1. […] said it a few times, how well Boozer plays will determine how the Bulls do against the Heat. Trust me, that’s still the only match up […]

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