Carlos Boozer: Knocking on the Doghouse Door?

Carlos Boozer: Knocking on the Doghouse Door?

He was the Bulls' big free agent addition this past
offseason and the long-sought-after low-post scoring threat that the Bulls have
needed for years.  However, fans and
media have become increasingly critical of his play.  With the playoffs upon us, Boozer has an
opportunity to change his detractors' minds. 
His first playoff game as a Bull threw gasoline, not water, on the
fire.

Carlos Boozer came to the Bulls this past summer with a NBA
reputation that could be fairly characterized as a "mixed-bag."  Despite a spectacular college career at Duke
where he average 26 points and 15 rebounds a game and was part of a NCAA National
Championship team, NBA talent evaluators were unimpressed.  Due to his lack of athleticism and only
average power forward size (6-7 ¾ without shoes), he dropped all the way to the
second round of the 2002 NBA draft where he was taken by the Cleveland
Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Years

Boozer almost immediately began proving the doubters wrong,
scoring 10 points and grabbing 7.5 rebounds while averaging only 25 minutes per
game in his rookie season.  As a NBA
sophomore, Boozer was joined by this high school kid named Lebron and the two
formed what looked like it would be a Cavs' "dynamic duo" for years to
come.  In his second season, Boozer
averaged 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game and posted a team-high Player
Efficiency Rating (PER) of 20.8 (yeah, a couple points better than Lebron's
18.3).

Because Boozer was selected in the second round, he became a
free agent after his second NBA season. 
For obvious reasons, the Cavs badly wanted to re-sign Boozer, but in a
controversial series of events that until "I'm taking my talents to South Beach"
gave Boozer "Most Hated Opposing Player" status among Cavaliers' fans, Boozer
signed a big-money multi-year contract with the Utah Jazz.  Cavs' ownership believed that Boozer lied to
them, essentially tricking them into moves that enabled Boozer to get his big
payday.  This episode caused many to
label Boozer as being both less than trustworthy and selfish.

The Jazz, All Stars
and Injuries

In six seasons with the Jazz, Boozer established himself as
a NBA star, averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game and was twice
selected to the NBA All Star Team.  When healthy, he was clearly one of the
best big men in the game.  The problem
was that he wasn't all that healthy, missing 138 regular season games during
his 6 years in Utah...that's an average of 23 per season and added "injury-prone"
to the list of Boozer descriptors, and if you ask any Jazz fan, Boozer was
never too keen about rushing back from his many injuries.

While Boozer's time with the Jazz cemented his credentials
as a superbly-skilled offensive player, they also exposed his defensive
shortcomings.  In the mind of his head coach
in Utah, Hall-of-Famer Jerry Sloan, Boozer's poor defensive play was mostly a
matter of "want-to."  "Boozer's got to
work more on his defense," Sloan said in 2005, "He can't step out on the floor
and expect to get 19, 20 points a game, and his man's getting 22 or 23. I told
him he's got to do a better job defensively. And he can do a better job... But he's got to make a commitment to defending."  Truth is, Boozer never has.

Boozer and the Bulls

Boozer signed a 5-year contract with the Bulls in July for
an estimated total value of $75million. 
With this kind of money, expectations were understandably high.  Boozer didn't exactly get off to a good start
with Bulls' fans when he broke his hand in an early-October household accident
just as training camp was starting.  As a
result, he missed the first 15 games of the Bulls' 2010-11 season.  He missed another 8 games during the season
due to ankle problems...ironically, that's a total of 23 regular season games
missed, exactly what he averaged in Utah.

When he's been able to play for the Bulls this season, he's
pretty much been Carlos Boozer, though he's clearly not having one of his
better seasons.  While his 17.5 points
per game are right around his career average (17.3), his scoring efficiency is
well below his career standards (field goal percentage of 51% this season
versus 53.7% career and true shooting percentage of 54.2% versus 57.7%).  His rebounding numbers are also down (9.6
rebounds per game versus 10.1) as is his PER (18.8 versus 20.6).

Unfortunately, his defense has been pretty much down to his
career standard.  Bulls' fans now
completely understand Sloan's earlier quote from 2005.  Other than grabbing defensive rebounds,
sometimes snatching them from teammates' hands, Boozer just isn't all that
interested in playing defense.  He's
quite possibly the worst big man I've ever seen when it comes to providing
off-ball help to beaten teammates.  He's
also reluctant to stray very far from the basket when defending his own man or to
"show" on pick-and-rolls.  Boozer simply
doesn't appear willing to do anything on defense that might jeopardize his
chance at cleaning the defensive glass.

The fact that the Bulls boast the league's best defense AND
Boozer plays significant minutes is truly a wonder.  If the Bulls defense was a picture from which
you were asked to pick out what doesn't belong, Boozer would be the obvious
choice...OK, Kyle Korver too.

Which brings us to the "doghouse" owned by the Bulls' fans
and media.  Recent occupants have
included Kirk Hinrich, Jannero Pargo, Luol Deng (just recently released) and Keith
Bogans.  There are several ways to gain
entrance, but as Deng learned, probably the quickest is for fans to decide that
you're not playing up to your contract. 
Others include giving less than your absolute best on the court and being
labeled as "injury-prone."

Boozer appears to be a prime candidate, but with career
playoff numbers of 20.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, most fans have yet
to banish the big man to their canine quarters...but make no mistake, they're
getting close.  If he puts up another
couple 4-for-11 shooting, 6 rebound games like he did yesterday against the Pacers,
it'll be "Move over, Keith."

Tom Nossem

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: carlos boozer

Comments

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  • I never really associated Carlos Boozer with bad defense in his early years. I also never associated him with injuries either until this season. Sometimes I feel max contracts are a burden. They should be reserved for contributing players at the end of their careers. As a thank you for years of productivity

  • In reply to ChiPride:

    I have lived in Utah the encore time Boozer played there. He misses 1/4 of the season. He never seems to want to return to action. He is the slowest defender. It is almost as if his brain Carnot process the thought of moving lateral.

  • In reply to BigLove:

    I meant to write "entire" not "encore."

  • @curtis You probally aren't associated with the utath jazz. This has nothign to do with a max contract. As the writer outlined above, Boozer has always had this rep. It's a fitting rep too.

  • 1. When might he get into Thibs's doghouse or will he bribe the doorkeepers with some of his 75 mil?
    2. Yesterday, when Psycho-T stole the ball, Boozer's defense was trying to push him. That showed he doesn't even try to leap.
    3. Maybe it's the beard he shaved off for the playoffs...Wait, his defense when he had that. But, atleast he looked a little scarier and could have scared Psycho-T.

  • I heard Jason Goff recently discussing Boozer's draft prospects coming out of college and one his biggest problems being slow lateral movement. Since then I've been watching this fairly closely and it's absolutely true. Boozer may be one of the slowest people I have ever seen moving side to side, it in some ways helps to explain his slow help defense.
    I also tend to think he hasn't been the same since he injured his ankle. That's not to say he was doing anything great on the defensive end before, but I think it's been worse since. As well his offense is not what it was before the injury and he relying more and more on his annoying fade away.

  • Boozer's output in specific match-ups should be pretty easy to predict. He plays poorly against length but well against averaged sized defenders, especially those which yield significant muscle disparities. I still think he could have contributed decently in this game if he didn't get into foul trouble by using his off hand on drives.

    Anyway, I guess what I'm getting it is that I think Boozer will pay off against other teams in the playoffs, teams which I consider to be the Bulls main competition. Match-up likes: Boston, Miami; dislikes: New York (somewhat, Turiaf guards him well), ATL (shot-blockers). I think it's too early to start passing judgement on Boozer's value in the playoffs. My biggest worry with him is that he's avoiding contact by using his off hand, where he was producing so many FTs earlier and that his midrange J hasn't been there consistently either.

    I'll hope for the best

  • In reply to swolty:

    Boozer has no value in the play-offs. I have watched him play in Utah the entire time he was there. He is a non-factor in pressure games.

  • In reply to BigLove:

    You hit it right on the head. I'm a consistent watcher of all nba playoff games even though Chicago is my team in all sports. Boozer has never played well in the playoff especailly against an opponent that is the same size or bigger than he is. He just fades away and does not care about the criticism he receives because he still does the same things. I hope the Bulls are smart enough to trade him while we can still get some value from him.

  • Tom, thanks for saying in a less hyperbolic way what I have been saying about BGBoozer ever since I started watching him on a daily basis. When you combine total lack of effort with a loud mouth phony you get a loathesome player, to me at least.

    I have no use for a guy who isn't ready to kill(figuratively) himself for his team.

    The Boozer we are getting right now, is no better than and maybe worse than Drew Gooden was, I actually think that Gooden tried harder and is actually bigger than Boozer.

    Hope that Doug reads your piece. He may not like the way I say it, but my judgement on Boozer is spot on, as it was with Gordon by the way who has turned out to be nothing but a dog in Detroit.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Thanks, it's always nice to get positive feedback, but I happen to disagree with a couple things you said or implied.

    First, Boozer is similar to Boozer in some ways (defense) but much better on offense. He's way more skilled and way more productive.

    Second, I was a Ben Gordon fan. He's a special kind of player and he's being wasted in Detroit. Of course, that was his decision so he deserves what he's getting (hell, he's a rich man). This said, I was completely in favor of letting him walk. Gordon's greatest value was his ability to be a "closer." He was very good at it. DRose is great at it, maybe the best in the game, and you can only have one closer. Gordon had to go.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    Meant to say that Boozer is similar to Gooden, rather than similar to Boozer (which is nonsensical).

  • In reply to Nossem:

    What will keep Boozer out of the doghouse (well a serious doghouse) is Derrick Rose.

    The team is so good, that it's hard for anyone except absolute die hards to get TOO upset about anyone. As long as the team keeps winning, fans will be annoyed by Boozer but they won't completely hate him.

    Who wins a bad defense contest between Drew Gooden and Carlos Boozer? I agree with your points that Boozer seems very stat oriented, his bad defense is largely a product of wanting to grab every rebound, even, as you mention, stealing them from his teammates.

    I haven't given up on Boozer, but at best, he's a guy like Lamar Odom to me. Which by that I mean, a guy who's vastly overpaid for what he is, but is still more talented than anyone else we could get for him, so we'll have to live with it.

    When you are competing for titles and there's no hard cap, then there's no more 'overpaid' until management avoids adding someone else because of the money. Hopefully Reinsdorf won't do that. His quotes imply that he won't, but it's hard to trust him to spend on the Bulls.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    In the end, everyone's "bulletproof" as long as the Bulls win. If they win it all, it'll be one big love-fest...everyone's a hero.

    However, as I'm sure you know, if they fall short, fans will be looking for players to blame and I think Boozer, given his big contract, will be first in line unless his playoff productivity protects him.

    Agree that he's a bit of a stats-hound, and in this case it may help him...but only if he puts up the numbers.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    If they lose, I think we'll be on the "we need a SG" bandwagon. It's the one position that the team gets the least amount of production.

    While Boozer needs to play better, the real problem is how can you realistically upgrade the front court at this point anyway? Who could you possibly trade for and get?

    There are no front court players better than Boozer who are available.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    It is like a chicken and egg question. Will Boozer improve with a good SG next year? The guy who is guarding Bogans or Brewer is definitely moving around Rose and Boozer. The answer we don't know unless we have a good SG or unless Korver plays a little more.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    The fact that Boozer is slow and cannot move laterally has nothing to do with who is at the 2 spot.

  • In reply to BigLove:

    The point is Boozer can be more effective on offense with a good SG who can keep his man honest. And Boozer's lateral slowness, that is an issue but we can fix it with good defense. I feel Boozer can play a little closer to Hansborough to stop his shot and if he drives to the basket, you can have Noah/help defense to stop him. I don't know if you are a Bulls fan but our offense would suck more without Boozer.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Is it the curse of Reinsdorf's big money spending?
    Look at who he has spent big money on external FAs after MJ's era?
    Boozer, Wallace, Ron Mercer, Eddie Robinson...anybody else?
    But that said, what could the Bulls do? David Lee...he is as worse as Boozer on defense. Having pipe dreams about Holford or Bosh is useless as we were not getting them. Shakes is right, this is the best we could get.
    It is amazing all the Boozer sucks guys are waiting to go off on Boozer when there is nobody else who is better than him realistically available.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    ....or we can just play the Hell out of Gibson and use Asik more.

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    It would be interesting to see how that would work. It's worth remembering this team really struggled early without Boozer, but Rose wasn't playing at nearly this level yet at that point either.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Also remember that November was a tough schedule for the Bulls, where as Dec/Jan was relatively easy

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    also the defense was playing at this level. It took those first 20 games to start to get Thibs' system down

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Give Boozer a full training camp with Thibs, and a chance to build synergy with Jo; if his D STILL sucks so bad, bench his ass and start Ta; Boozer would be a good scoring option off the bench and in the 4th Q. Screw his big contract, Thibs is The Boss and would have the courage to do that... I hope... Of course, there's this small matter first of a championship we're looking for THIS year... Still, if he keeps getting burned like that, look for his minutes to continue to shorten, Taj is showing better post moves than Carlos right now anyway. Sure, Booze has a pretty raindrop jumper, he could be fed by CJ as easily as DRose... I wish Thibs would flex on demand, but it's clear he has no intention of doing so! Oh well, one down, lots more to go still... I hope I continue to LOVE THIS GAME! Thanks for the history, Tom, I appreciate context.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    'There are several ways to gain entrance, but as Deng learned, probably the quickest is for fans to decide that you're not playing up to your contract. Others include giving less than your absolute best on the court and being labeled as "injury-prone."'

    Keith Bogans is paid the vet minimum, always tries hard and hasn't missed a game yet is in the doghouse too.

    I've got a simpler theory: fans put players in the dog house because we're irrational, unreasonable bastards. We want people we don't even know to be held to a standard that we certainly don't live up to ourselves. Do you know anyone who works their hardest every single day, can do any job that's asked of them, never makes mistakes, never takes days off sick, is willing to eat shit and smile about it when asked, is slavishly loyal to the company even though the company can get rid of them on a whim, and by the way will do it for half of what the next guy is on since we demand nobody be "overpaid"? Didn't think so.

    Boozer sucks at defense. We knew that (and anyone who says they didn't know should have), we knew it wasn't going to change (and anyone who says they thought a player in his mid-late 20s would change is being unrealistic), we can either say "Boozer sucks at defense what a chump" for the next 4 years or we an just move on. It's not just "effort", frankly that's insulting both ways: the guys who are good defenders have genuine skill and are not just trying harder like it's a little league game only one kid is interested in; and the guys who are bad defenders are not just lazy bums cashing cheques.

    I mean take Rose and Brewer (to remove Boozer and people's feeling for him from the equation). I see two similarly gifted athletes. Does the fact Brewer comes up with steals twice as often as Rose indication Ronnie is trying twice as hard? Or does it indicate he happens to have a better read on the game at the defensive end and is better able to anticipate where the ball will go? Which one sounds more plausible to you? Now ask yourself, if you're not calling out Rose for being a slacker for not getting steals like Brewer does, what makes you think it's just Boozer being lazy that makes him a bad defender?

    As far as offense goes, of course you want more but if a guy averages 20 a game he's not going to hit that mark every night. A guy who always without fail scores 20 averages 30 a game. It's just the same crap that people were using against Deng earlier in the year, as if any player in the league is so consistent they'll hit their average every time they take the court (which of course fans would then use against them to prove they're not game winners who can go off on a team or something).

    In short Boozer is a flawed player but so is most of the league. He's still a good player who can help the team. The Bulls are the best team in the league, Boozer has helped them get there, so I really don't get all the hate. So he makes 15 million a year, I thought the American way was "rah rah free enterprise exploit exploit make as much as you can" so y'all should be happy for him. ;)

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Shakes, you are frighteningly rational....to the point of possibly being unable to live in our world.

    I agree with just about everything you said, but when they come for you, as we all know they will, I will deny any knowledge of you.

    Good comment, but you didn't hear it from me.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Is it possible to trade boozer for Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph??

  • In reply to handushk:

    Assuming "Trade Checker" under the current CBA would permit Randolph for Boozer straight-up no way Memphis would do this deal. For a guy with a lot of personal baggage, Randolph carried his team on his back into the playoffs. He produces under pressure. He is a legitimate talent.

    Someone on this or another board has referred to Boozer as a "phony tough guy." I think that's about right. He is weak around the rim and can't finish. Won't take a charge. Often tries to create space offensively through "illegal" techniques (lowering shoulder, extending forearm,) drawing offensive fouls.

    Scouts around the league have no doubt realized that Boozer is not the same player he once was. He is on the road to Ben Wallaceville.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Some fans want to make excuses for Boozer but bottom line, I really don't think he is the right fit for the Bulls especially with management investing big in Noah and Boozer type of game and lack of defensive rotations is effecting Noah's game, it has all year and no one wants to admit that fact. Let's hope the team can somehow get past this problem and bring another title to Chicago.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Don't like Boozer much, but I don't think there's much we can do about it either. We could probably unload his contract, but not for something good.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Randolph isn't under contract after this year so it's not a legal trade anyway.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    You could easily do a S&T swap if the Grizzlies, Randolph and Bulls all wanted to get it done.

    Of course, it's unlikely that all three parties want to get it done (And probably not even 2 of the 3 ).

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Mentioning Ben Wallace just sent a chill down my spine. That's my exact worry about Boozer: that he's an undersized guy that, once he lost a step or a little lift, just couldn't get it done against NBA level talent anymore. Although Wallace in his prime was the opposite kind of player than Boozer in every other way, my fear is that in this way they're similar. The optimistic part of me thinks that Boozer's still a bit young to lose that much, though. I'm hoping it's just his ankle's a bit off.

  • In reply to tmleith:

    Thats a good point but I would like to believe the last thing to go is a good shot so if he can't bully up at least he can still pop it

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Shakes, I read your post 3x and am truly baffled by your reasoning. Lengthy posts often mask truly flawed judgment. For Example, "In short, Boozer is a flawed player but so is most of the league." Basically, what you are saying is that because most players are not perfect, and Boozer is not perfect, why pick on Boozer when you can pick on anybody else. Huh? Did you get this from the back of a Tibetan cereal box? So Boozer, you acknowledge, is ripping off the Bulls for high pay for low performance and I am supposed to be happy for him?

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I find lengthy postts often mask the fact that the writer is procrastinating on doing some real work ... :)

    I'm saying that Boozer has his flaws, we knew that when we signed him, so why is everyone acting like it's shocking that he's a bad defender? What was the alternative to Boozer? Spend the money on Amare or Lee, both of whom are also bad defenders? Split the money between multiple players on a team that already has a 10 or 11 deep rotation? The Bulls made the best of the hand they were dealt, they didn't sign Boozer because they thought he was the answer to every problem, they signed him because he was the best thing going all things considered.

    As far as the money goes, my point is it's not coming out of my pocket so why should I give a crap. The Bulls aren't getting cap space any time soon so how much Boozer makes is completely meaningless. He's not even overpaid, he's making what NBA players make. If there was no lockout and he was a free agent this off-season is it that hard to believe he'd get 15 million over the next 4 years from somewhere? Bigs are always at a premium and whatever his faults Boozer is still an efficient scorer and a very strong rebounder. Someone would pay for that.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Re the "we knew what he was before he was coming so don't complain" argument, it is valid to a degree, but just compare Korver to Boozer. Both known to be poor on offence prior to signing, but one of them is making an effort on defence and has bought in fully to Thibs system - and it ain't Boozer.

    I agree with your earlier comment about fans being unreasonable, and I don't think we should complain about players lack of skills because every player (bar a few) is a mixed bag.

    But lack of effort is something we fans have a right to callout when we see it.

  • In reply to anasemaj:

    That depends on what your expectations were and where they came from. If you rely on the general wisdom you'll find it's pretty much full of stereotypes like Korver being a bad defender based on being a pretty boy three point specialist. I generally go read up on what fans of a team think about their players, then throw out the opinions of those who think everyone is a future all-star (or D-leaguer).

    Based on that I expected Boozer to be bad and Korver to be decent on defense, because that was the general opinion of the intelligent sounding Jazz fans.

    FWIW I didn't want to sign Boozer, he was basically my option of last resort (OK, when feeling less of a gambler I think Amare's knees were my option of last resort). But now he's here, what you going to do? No point beating the dead horse the next 4 years about him being a bad defender or often injured or having a stupid beard. ;)

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    lol oh man i wish there was a like button for this whole conversation

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    So the Lakers, Spurs, and Magic lose.

    Obviously, their opponents didn't respect them enough to lay down and hand over a win on a silver platter. I think that should be enough of that "no one respects the Bulls" criticism. None of the lower seeds give a shit. And why should they? They're out to win. Take the Heat, who, although, won in the ed, had all they could handle in the Sixers. None of the 1st round series will be cakewalks, and as I'm typing this the Nuggets are putting it to the Thunder. I think Bulls' fans should be very pleased that our team showed heart and the mental toughness to prevail, and didn't fall victim to these opening game failures. I know I am.

    Oh, as a side note. How about Melo 5 for 18, for 15 pts, and missing at the buzzer? Anyone still wishing for that guy? Or does anyone think he's overrated?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Your comparison to Drew Gooden is the best one I have heard about Boozer the loser.

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