A lot of names have been thrown around from the Bulls fan base, and the names most often discussed are:
- Chris Bosh
- Carlos Boozer
- Al Jefferson
- Amar'e Stoudemire
- Troy Murphy
Let's start with Chris Bosh.
6'10, and around 250 pounds after some much-needed weigth gain in the summer of '09. Bosh is a face-up power forward who can take it strong to the rim, draw fouls and get to the line. He's also a pick and pop option, as he's got a solid mid-range jumpshot. The knock on Bosh is his lack of explosiveness and power. He doesn't have an effective back-to-the-basket game unless it's against considerably smaller opponents. What he does have is speed. For a 6'10 player, he runs the court effortless and would in theory work with Derrick Rose as he could fill the lane and finish over the rim.
Bosh is also a strong rebounder and alongside Joakim Noah, the Bulls would have the best rebounding front-court in the NBA. However both are on the skinny side, and would be outmuscled frequently.
Next up is Carlos Boozer.
At 6'9 and 266 pounds, Boozer isn't easy to push away. The Utah forward is one of the most effective weapons on the low block, as he has great footwork and can get his shots off through hooks, fade-aways and up-and-under fakes. He shoots a high percentage, is an elite rebounder and isn't afraid of passing the ball. While he doesn't rival the athletic abilities of Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire, he is arguably the best big man of the group in a half-court setting.
The downside to Boozer is his lack of loyalty, his lack of defense and his injury history. Boozer has missed 146 games in eigth seasons which could prove problematic if acquired. The last thing Chicago needs is another key player going down with injuries. But when healthy, Boozer performs at such a high level that you cannot ignore him.
Al Jefferson from Minnesota is our next candidate.
6'10, 265 and with possibly the best low-post game in the NBA. Jefferson can score against anyone down low by using a wide variety of moves and fakes, as well as simply overpowering his opponent. Like Bosh and Boozer, Jefferson is also a tremendous rebounder having grabbed 11 a game in three of his last four seasons.
What Jefferson doesn't bring to the table is the ability to run with Derrick Rose or for that matter, score at high efficiency. Despite his strengths around the rim, Jefferson often falls in love with the mid-range jumpshot which has him shooting under 50% from the field. Much like Boozer, he works best in a half-court setting. Jefferson missed 32 games last season when he tore his ACL, and his play was affected by it this year. His numbers dropped considerably and his defense looked worse than ever. Jefferson is under contract in Minnesota and could only be acquired through trade.
Next up is fan favorite Amar'e Stoudemire.
6'10 and between 255-265 pounds. Stoudemire is a large body with freakishly athletic ability. He can run the floor all night long and is the best pick and roll big man in the NBA. Stoudemire scores at a high volume (23.1 points a game) and on high efficiency (61.5 TS%). His rebounding numbers are abysmal for someone that skilled, that large and that athletic. But his impact on the floor is undeniable. Along with Steve Nash, he's taken Phoenix deep into the playoffs and performed at a high level. Stoudemire can make the occasional back-to-the-basket move, but his strengths are on display mostly in up-tempo situations that feature a lot of pick and rolls. He draws fouls at a high rate and knocks down his free throws.
Defensively, Stoudemire leaves a lot to be desired. He doesn't box out nearly as often as he should and he loses sight of the ball. In the past, Stoudemire has also experienced knee problems and have begun wearing goggles to protect his eyes. He got poked in the eye which left him in danger of losing his vision and is now forced to play with those goggles the rest of his career.
Troy Murphy is our final candidate.
(It should be noted immediately that Murphy is only of interest if the Bulls should somehow acquire an elite wing player such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Murphy, while an upgrade, is not a primary goal going into the summer for Chicago.)
Having said that, Murphy is probably the best 3-point power forward in the league today, depending if you think Dirk Nowitzki shoots the long ball enough. At 6'11 and around 250, he's got size on his side and isn't entirely unathletic. Murphy is an outstanding rebounder and would also become one of the best pick and pop options for the Bulls in years. His overall volume of shots is low as he attempts just 11.3 shots a night. At 58.5 TS%, he's efficient and doesn't take shots outside the offense.
Murphy is a team player, and his part on the Bulls would be as a third or fourth scorer who could see a lot of open shots built on the penetration of Derrick Rose. With Joakim Noah playing the role of defensive center, Murphy would be able to concentrate on sneaking in for defensive rebounds and get down the floor. While not super quick, Murphy can play the role of trailer and spot up from three. So he wouldn't negatively affect the Bulls' running game.
Overall, Murphy makes few mistakes but is fairly unimpressive compared to the other four. But as a third or fourth option, he would likely look tremendous.
So who to chase? Stoudemire gives the Bulls the best pick and roll option. Murphy the best pick and pop option, Bosh the best combination of those two, Boozer the most efficient half-court man and Jefferson the best low-post player. All provide strengths in different areas and all have weaknesses that are hard to ignore.
Adding the growth of Joakim Noah into the mix, some defensive weaknesses can be hidden next to him. Assuming Luol Deng is also around, the Bulls would be able to survive on the defensive presence of those two. Players such as Boozer, Stoumire and Jefferson are all so beefy that even though their defensive awareness isn't all that great, they'll be able to shield off the basket with some consistency.
Chris Bosh is the most versatile offensive weapon of the group, but is likely to get tossed around more, which will force the Bulls to find a thick big man to come off the bench and play minutes. And no, Eddy Curry isn't coming back. But unlike Stoudemire, Boozer and Jefferson, Bosh hasn't been phrone to injuries. Murphy is healthy but, as noted, unimpressive in the sense of being a primary target. So for those reasons, we'll leave him out of the next paragraph.
The easiest guy to remove from the list has to be be Minnesota's Al Jefferson. Injuries, half-court man, bad defense and low efficiency. The only way Jefferson could fit onto the Bulls was if LeBron James or Dwyane Wade came over. That would leave so many lanes to the basket open with James + Rose or Wade + Rose attacking the rim. But since that's highly improbable, Jefferson is the weakest link.
The remaining three would all lift the Bulls a tier as each provide an offensive aspect that has been much needed in Chicago. All three would be able to play alongside Derrick Rose, while also fitting in nicely alongside Joakim Noah. But the Bulls need to have players out there who can stay healthy. As mentioned, Boozer has missed 146 games in his eigth years in the NBA. Stoudemire, also an eigth year pro, has missed 140. Bosh, having just completed his seventh season, has missed 65.
So it comes down to what the Bulls prefer.
Health = Chris Bosh
Efficiency = Amar'e Stoudemire (61.5 TS%)
Up-tempo = Amar'e Stoudemire
Defense = Toss-up between Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh
Rebounding = Carlos Boozer (11.8 per36)
Scoring = Amar'e Stoudemire (24.1 per36)
Versatility = Chris Bosh
Pick and roll = Amar'e Stoudemire
Pick and pop = Chris Bosh
Post-game = Carlos Boozer
Regardless of which direction the Bulls go, it's clear that these three should be their main targets.
So who would you choose, and why?