Will Pau Gasol be the next Carlos Boozer?

Will Pau Gasol be the next Carlos Boozer?

The good news about Pau Gasol is that he's not signed for 15 million per year for five years. In that sense, he'll never be the bad contract that Carlos Boozer was. Paying a shade under seven million per year for Pau suggests the Bulls view him as a role player type. He's actually paid less than Taj Gibson.

The fact that people are so excited about him seems more due to name recognition and in his prime achievements than current ability. He looks like he'll initially be the starter for the Bulls, also likely based on reputation and ego more so than ability. The real question is just how good will Pau Gasol be?

Last season, according to Synergy Sports, his most used play time was "Post Up" at 38.6% of his plays. His next most common play was the P&R Roll man at 19.7%. That's a pretty good start in terms of the way he is used in the offense relative to Boozer who was 27.2% and 14.3% respectively.

He was also a more efficient scorer than Boozer in both areas scoring .83 points per possession on post ups and 1.11 on roll man plays. Overall, Gasol's scoring wasn't so great at .92 points per possession though still a step up from Carlos Boozer's .85.

So if Gasol repeats last season, he'll give us more than last season's version of Boozer. If you compare Gasol to 2010 Carlos Boozer, the comparison isn't far off. In 2010, Boozer averaged .93 points per possession, and .85 on post ups. In short, last year's Gasol might give us something similar to 2010 Boozer on offense in terms of creating shots and overall efficiency.

It's unlikely he'll add a whole lot more on defense than Boozer did either, though he does have more height to contest shots. I don't trust Gasol as much rebounding the basketball, but Boozer stole enough rebounds from teammates padding his stats that I'm not sure there's much of a difference there.

The problem for the Bulls will be how long Gasol can fight off age. It's possible some of the decline in his ability the past couple seasons has been based on the quality of his teammates and being the #1 option on the Lakers. The Chicago Bulls should represent a much better set of teammates for him to play with which means we might even see an uptick in his ability this season.

However, Chicago wanted to turn this into a two year deal via S&T for more money per year for a few reasons. First, they'd have more cap room in 2016 when Kevin Durant will become a free agent, but also because they recognize that Gasol isn't likely going to be an asset in that third season even on what feels like a pretty reasonable deal right now.

The good news for Chicago is that as Gasol's minutes wind down over the next three seasons it creates a good window for Nikola Mirotic to play more. Mirotic might not get a whole lot of run this season as there simply aren't likely to be a whole lot of big man minutes available, however, as Gasol declines and his minutes drop, Mirotic should easily fill in those gaps.

They aren't the same type of players in style, but they're at least both offensive oriented players and may provide similar types of impact to the rest of the team when on the floor.

Overall, I'm keeping my expectations for Pau Gasol fairly limited. He won't be the next Boozer in terms of fan hatred simply because his contract isn't close to being as bad as Boozer's nor are the expectations as high. However, in terms of playing style? It's definitely possible he'll be a starting offensive option who plays limited minutes and isn't used as a closer, quite similar to Boozer.

The good news for Chicago is even if he only gives the Bulls one decent large minute season and then plays 15 minutes a night as a backup in the final two years the cost won't be obscene, and the roster might even make that preferable.

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  • I think we're going to get one really solid season out of Gasol, and after that he'll start to decline. However he's more forgivable because like you said, he's playing on a reasonable contract. I'm not entirely sure how Mirotic is going to be implemented but it would be a shame to see him riding the bench this year. He's a true stretch 4 and that's something we've been desperately needing. My hope is this year Thibs is reasonable on the minutes. We have so much dept at almost every position there's no reason to play anyone crazy minutes. I think for this season Miritoc should see at least 16mpg. Gasol should start games at pf but see most of his playing time as a backup center. Even though Taj will come off the bench obviously he's the primary player at pf with Noah as the starter at center. I think with that rotation everyone can be happy.

  • I think Gasol will put numbers greater than 2010 Boozer. Gasol shows up on big moments, he is 3 inches taller than Boozer and has a much better court vision. His game does not rely on athleticism, but more on skills, so he is not going to lose much of his offense from when he paired with another superstar (Kobe). The Bulls can have the same interior game as the Lakers had on their last Championships, with an amazing interior passing, low post and efficiency offense with two twin towers. This is a perfect match for both Gasol and the Bulls.

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    I have to wait and see Mirotic play a few preseason games before I assume he'll sit on the bench and except the role of not playing, but right now I just don't see that happening. I don't see Mirotic patiently waiting while Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson split 48 mins of playing time. A full season goes by and Mirotic simply says he'll wait another year while Gasol fulfills his contract obligations as a Chicago Bull. That's not the competitive nature of an athlete, especially one who shows up with Euro-league MVP hardware. I'll have to wait and see, but right now I can't see the Bulls practically inserting rookie Doug McDermott into the starting lineup, while Nikola Mirotic sits, and they both come with the same skill set.
    Pau will be a serviceable player, but it's going to take the impact of McDermott and Mirotic to take the team to new heights. Just wait n see.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I agree, M & M are keys to the Bulls becoming contenders each year. Plus Rose, obviously. But even if Rose is nothing special, if they can trade for a decent SG, they will contend if M & M shoot anything like their history projects.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I agree with you, I think that we are headed toward having a problem with Mirotic not getting enough playing time. Maybe it won't be too bad this first season, but by the beginning of next season, it could become a serious problem. I love having 4 capable big men, but in order for it to work, they all have to be willing to play less than 30 minutes a game, and one has to be able to give you some minutes at SF.

  • Also I want to say this about Gasol. Tim Duncan is 39 years old and still going strong. Gasol is a skill player so age won't hurt his game too much. He doesn't rely on athleticism like so many players in the league now. Once the injuries start happening or age and their athleticism starts to fade so does their game, but Gasols game never centered around athleticism just like Duncan. So I think he still has a few good years left in the tank. I'm hoping that he and Noah can form a good tandem like he did with Howard and Bynum. Gasol is just a superior passer and knows how to use his height advantage and ability to score down low to draw in defenders and find the open man anywhere on the court. I don't think people will truly appreciate Gasol on the Bulls until the playoffs. That's when those instincts of his are really going to shine. And Doug your crazy if you don't want Gasol to close out games. Next to Rose ( if healthy ) he's our most offensively talented player on the team and he can score with both hands.

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    When I hear people talk of Gasol's big ego and him possibly being the next Boozer, I don't know where it's all coming from. He made it clear that he came here because it was his best chance to win a title. He took less money than other teams were offering and appears to be very humble IMO. The fact that he accepted a contract that pays him less money than Gibson tell me that he's not trying to step on any toes. He could have demanded more and the Bulls would have happily paid more.
    People also seem to think that Mirotic is going to be sitting on the bench this season happily nursing that big fat three year contract. I'm going to lay out a plan that many might be overlooking simply because of the name "Gasol!" Gibson clearly out played Boozer last season on both ends of the floor. Word is, he was promised the starting PF spot. If this team wants to be competitive and go hard on both ends with its starters; a Gibson / Noah front court makes perfect sense because Noah offers the play making skills Gasol has, while Gibson can put up the offensive numbers of Gasol. Gasol and Noah on the floor together gives you height and extra play making, while Gibson and Noah give you lock down defense and the same amount of scoring if not more. What makes even more sense is that Mirotic adds more value to the Bulls than Asik did, which means if the bulls would play Asik his rookie season, why not give Mirotic the same level of treatment for his many talents that are not defensive? A Gasol / Mirotic front court gives you in offense what Gibson / Noah offer in defense. And, I believe a Gasol / Mirotic front court can go up against any front court bench combo in the league with great success. And together, they should be able to defend bench players and the paint pretty good. Add a 6'10 Dunleavy, a more improved Snell, and a tough vet like Hinrich to that bench mob and they can bully every bench in the league. Gasol and Mirotic can feed off of each other because their games compliment each others, as well as their height making them problematic for opposing teams. It also opens the floor for Snell and Dunleavy to shoot threes or cut to the basket. Having Gasol, Mirotic, and Dunleavy on the floor at the same time will give height and versatility that no other team in the league can match. Put McDermott in the starting line up with four defensive minded vets who can cover his defensive shortcoming (if needed), and he can cover the offensive shortcomings of the starters. This would be the most logical approach to the new additions to this team, which also allows Thibs to mix and match at will, while minute distribution now becomes a matter of performance instead of seniority.

  • In reply to Anthony Hinton:

    On paper this clearly is the ideal plan for utilizing all the depth. However, all of this hinges on Gasol's status as either a starter or role player off the bench. Hopefully the FO, Thibs and Gasol can all agree his starting days are over.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    I don't mind Gasol starting. He's easily the best offensive big man on the Bulls and post-up games age well. He could still put up the occasional big game. Noah and Taj will likely get more minutes.

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    In reply to BullsMan:

    Agreed, BullsMan! I also see Taj being a favorite on the floor with Noah because they can hound other bigs defensively to the point of frustration. Gasol and Mirotic can probably fineness other bigs offensively to the point of frustration. This starting 5 a then brig in the 5 off the bench would be a 1 2 punch that players and coaches will just hate to see when going against all of this talent. Also imagine putting Gibson with Mirotic for an inside out game because of Mirotic's ball handling and play making abilities, while Gibson is cutting to the rim for monster dunks. Mixing and matching line ups is going to be fun for Thibs, fun for the players, as well as fun for fans to watch.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    Gasol has stated in interviews that he was offended by any suggestion that he shouldn't start during his last season with the Lakers. He said that after he signed with the Bulls. I don't know if he will have a different attitude toward that with the Bulls due to the superior front court talent that we have. My gut feeling is that he wants to start, and probably will, just because Taj is already used to being the backup starter, rather than the actual starter which he would also prefer to be.

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    In reply to BullsMan:

    I agree with this lineup. Maybe Pau will begin the season as a starter, but I don't see it lasting throughout the season. I'm not sure if Pau is able to guard many 4's on the defensive end, especially stretch 4's who have become more popular throughout the league.

    Taj and Noah has the defensive ability to play stretch 4's, as well as defend the basket. This would help the team maintain its' defensive effectiveness.

    Mirotic remains an unknown X factor, but what was written about his game is that he's a pretty good defender in his own right. He also has the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting range (over 50% accuracy), he has an assortment of low post moves, he can take it to the hole and draw And 1's, he's a good rebounder, and he's able to find to open man with his def passing skills...If Mirotic is able to do these same things against physically stronger, more athletic NBA players, then what would keep him from logging major mins for the Bulls? Taj is at best a midrange scorer, and Pau's range may extend from the low post to the baseline 3, but Mirotic's range is anywhere in the half court.

    It would be wise to allow Mirotic to play though the league to get familiar with his opponents strengths and weaknesses, and how to best utilize his skills. Assuming Mirotic is able to score in the low post, and grab some rebounds, and play decent defense, he'll be an upgrade at the PF position regardless if Taj and Pau is playing or not.
    I would consider playing him as a backup 3 to Butler, and a backup 4 to Taj with the 2nd unit. I would also consider playing McDermott as the starting 3 and Butler as the starting 2, and or have McDermott as the backup 3 to Butler, and Snell as the backup 2. Either way if the Bulls are to rise from their 30th ranked offense, it's going to take more than D. Rose to get them there, McDermott and Mirotic are the team's best options to lift them into a top 10 offense.

  • Here are the questions that needs to be asked for this Bulls season.....

    - Can Rose stay healthy?
    - Will Rose decline in his play or will return to All Star status?
    - Can the Bulls make a serious run for the Title?
    - Will Coach Tibbs over work his players again at the end of the season?
    - Did those two draft picks we gave up on draft day come back and haunt us later?
    - If Rose goes down again, is that the end of the Rose era?
    - Will a Bulls player step up this season and take D-Wade out with his cheap shots?

  • I tend to agree with you that much of the excitement over Gasol's arrival is based almost solely on name recognition and past championship performance. I really will have to wait and see before I pronounce judgement.

    Unfortunately Gasol has some dog in his game especially in transitioning from offense to defense and looking somewhat somnambulant on the defensive end once he gets there.

    I'm hoping, however, that coming to the Bulls and having a legitimate shot at winning rejuvenates his attitude. He simply cannot be as bad as boozer who actively tried(maybe pursued is a better word since he never actually tried at anything as a Bull) to suck.

    At least he won't be screaming like a wild banshee or some other lesser primate every time that he does or doesn't make a play. At half the salary and 60% of the years, worst case we should only hate him at about 55% of the rate of hate which his bozoholiness inspired.

  • I'd be surprised if Gasol turned into a missing piece type player at his age and regressing skills. I'd bank on the fact right now that it would have been a better idea to roll with Gibson and Mirotic and add Lance Stephenson, as you've voiced in the past, Doug. The idea that Mirotic may not get much "run," as you put it, is irking. He's being paid more than the #1 overall pick. What if a team didn't play their number one overall pick the first year?

    Cleveland got a ton of backlash for doing that with Anthony Bennett, and I hope Mirotic looks a hell of a lot more promising than Bennett did on the court. This guy needs to play from day one so we can give him time to develop against NBA players and see what he can do. Adding Gasol created a bit of a logjam. Too many players and not enough minutes. We know where Thibs will side in this fight. 34-year-old, career-long starter, two-time champion, former All-Star... or a rookie. Thibs doesn't demote guys, period. I hope, if the facts call for it, that he can prove me wrong.

  • I think we are all talking about good problems to have. The Bulls literally have 10 guys that can start and the key is to determine the best combination to maximize the potential of the roster without over/underplaying anybody and.... manage the player's egos. That's the gift and problem Thibs has inherited now.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Kind of but not really. They have a lot of starting big men, meanwhile, they might not have even two starting caliber wings.

    They needed a SG but instead they signed Gasol, a C/PF, when they didn't really need one. I think most of us would have been fine with Noah, Taj and Mirotic as our primary bigs with a Greg Smith or a Nazr as a 4th big man.

    Meanwhile, Butler and Dunleavy are ok but hardly inspire confidence.

    I'm starting to question if these guys know how to build a team. I just don't really understand an upgrade to a front court that didn't really need it, with no upgrade to a wing position that badly needs it. Here's hoping McDermott sets the world on fire as a rookie, unlikely.

  • Rose is looking solid so far. I'm impressed by his pressure defense. He also made a good cut to the basket for the assist to Parsons. So far the hysteria generated from him sitting out three days seems unwarranted. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • Don't really get the excitement about Gasol starting, he's really not a PF in today's NBA. Ideal role for him would be off the bench primarily as Noah's backup.

    I hope signing him doesn't mean we have to keep up the "he's a starter" charade like was done with Boozer.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    That is my biggest problem with Gasol, he is really a true center, who was forced to play PF when paired with Bynum and Howard. Thus Noah, will likely be forced to play PF when paired with Gasol, just like he was with the bozohole. At least with Gasol, we don't have to pretend that Taj(an undersized PF) can also play center.

  • I think you are all forgetting about injuries. Our 4 front court players are all pretty good and will demand minutes, but there will be stretches where at least one is out with injury or two are nursing less serious injuries. Plus, Gas does not want any part of playing 35-40 MPG, like Duncan. I bet Gasol wants to start and probably finish. But, averaging 28-30 MPG is probably fine as long as he's utilized correctly when he's in the game. He will want to score and contribute, and he should because that's his role.

  • In reply to Granby:

    My point is that there will be plenty of minutes for Mirotic in his first season. Thibs will play the best guys down the stretch when it counts. Asik did not play at all early in his first year in the NBA, but played plenty down the stretch.

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    Who did the Spurs start at PF and C? That's right...Duncan and Splitter. Looking at Duncan and Gasol's career stats, they're very similar players. Let's hope they age similarly.

    I really think all of you comparing him to Boozer are underselling Gasol's ability and preference to operate in the low post. That was never really Boozer's strong suit, especially as he aged and lost any ability to jump. Gasol is legitimately 7 feet tall, is much smarter, and is a better passer than Boozer.

    I know he's aging, but he's still a big presence in the post who doesn't rely on athleticism and he's much more skilled than Boozer.

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