When the Chicago Bulls acquired Carlos Boozer in 2010, they were hoping to get an elite post player who would help Derrick Rose get to the NBA Finals. Now, Bulls fans are wondering when they can officially give up on him.
What the franchise and fans actually got from Boozer was someone who was nowhere near elite and has underachieved in the playoffs. He went from being a 20-point companion to Deron Williams in the playoffs to a 13-point supplement to Derrick Rose.
At roughly $15 million per year, he’s easily one of the most overpaid players in the NBA from a production and value standpoint.
Boozer’s start to the 2012-13 season has been a continuation of the disappointment and decline, with mediocre point totals and shooting percentages to go along with a career-low PER (16.6).
Many Chicago fans are ready to say “good riddance” to the former All-Star, but when can they actually write him off and give up on him?
I wouldn’t give up on him just yet, because we’ve seen a slight uptick in production of late, and solid per-minute rebounding numbers (11.7 per 36 minutes). But it’s pretty sad that scoring 20-plus is a big deal for him nowadays, as K.C. Johnson notes:
Carlos Boozer’s 28 points in OT win at PHX followed a string of 5 games in which he averaged 8.4 ppg. sulia.com/my_thoughts/82…
— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 15, 2012
It’s not just the point totals that are unnerving. Boozer is currently notching career-lows in field-goal percentage (46 percent), true shooting percentage (49 percent) and effective field-goal percentage (46 percent).
There’s plenty of time left in the season for him to clean that up, but if he doesn’t improve by Christmas, he’ll fall even farther out of favor with the United Center faithful.
The 2012-13 season is still young, but Boozer already has five single-digit scoring outings and has eclipsed 20 just three times.
Boozer is a smart offensive player with excellent footwork, positioning, and a reliable mid-range jump shot. But he lacks dynamic shot-creating moves, mid-air adjustments, and touch off the glass. These deficiencies have been highlighted more than usual by the absence of Rose.
Most importantly, his already mediocre vertical is diminishing.
It’s an aspect of his game that gives reason to believe he’ll never regain elite status and 20-point, 11-rebound production Bulls fans crave. He fails to put pressure on opposing defenses and draw fouls like he used to.
The following clip is a simple display of Boozer’s struggles, as he’s bested by a more athletic Josh Smith and does little to adjust during the play.
In addition to Boozer’s declining offensive value, his defense continues to be spotty and, at times, embarrassing.
His on-ball defense isn’t even the biggest problem. It’s his help defense and pick-and-roll defense that’s problematic.
For an intelligent player who surely understands the concepts of team defense, Boozer often shows a failure to apply the concepts on the court.
He often gets caught flat-footed and is indecisive on screens, and his rim protection is deplorable at times. A few weeks ago, Reggie Miller called him out for lackluster defense against the Thunder, and the following clip from 2011 shows him letting the Heat walk all over him.
I’m not one to rush to judgement, and Bulls fans shouldn’t be hasty in their dismissal of Boozer either. He often incurs negative energy from Chicago fans due to his salary and elevated expectations, which isn’t necessarily fair.
But back-to-back abysmal playoff showings in 2011 and 2012 followed by a subpar November should make them (and more importantly, Tom Thibodeau) nervous.
There are a couple of benchmarks to keep an eye on at New Year’s: If Boozer isn’t shooting 50 percent, scoring more than 16 points per night, and getting to the free-throw line more than three times per night by January, Bulls fans can write him off.
Note: Statistics accurate as of 11/28
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