With fans preparing for the upcoming NBA season, let's further analyze each Chicago Bull to gauge what kind of impact they could have as the team looks to reach the next level. You can also check out the player previews for Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, Brian Scalabrine, John Lucas III, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Rip Hamilton.
Player: Carlos Boozer (F)
Salary: $10,865,853 (two missed paychecks in November are taken into account).
How did he perform last season?: Boozer had an up and down debut season with the Bulls. After missing the first month of the campaign due to a broken right pinkie, he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in December and January, providing the low-post scoring the organization had lacked for a long time. Once the second half of the season rolled around, though, Boozer's struggles began to concern plenty of Bulls fans. He averaged just 14.8 points and nine rebounds while shooting 45.5 percent from the field after the All-Star break. Although Boozer dealt with a nagging ankle injury late in the season, his defense, or lack thereof, was a cause for concern for the Bulls. Teammates and coaches appeared to be upset with Boozer's defensive play at times, although the veteran power forward repeatedly talked about the support he received from them. Unable to find the offensive rhythm he displayed earlier in the season, Boozer averaged about 13 points and 10 rebounds in 16 playoff games. He was held to single-digit points in six playoff contests. He also suffered a turf toe injury against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and never seemed to have the same lift and touch on the offensive end. Boozer was supposed to put up 20 points and 10 rebounds night in and night out, give the Bulls a secondary option and shoulder some of the scoring load off point guard Derrick Rose. In the eyes of many followers, Boozer did not cut it -- but his teammates felt as though some of the criticism directed toward him was unwarranted.
"With Carlos, people have to understand he's playing through an injury, and he's giving us what he's got," center Joakim Noah told reporter last May. "He's somebody who has an unbelievable presence, and he opens up a lot of things for a lot of us. I think sometimes people are quick to bash one player. But this is a team, and we know we need Carlos to get to where we want to go."
Areas for improvement: Boozer's challenge to remain healthy throughout the season will be tougher than ever, given the fact that each NBA team will be playing a condensed 66-game schedule. He missed 23 regular-games a season ago, and the injuries he dealt with last spring were well-documented. If the Bulls are going to get past the Miami Heat, Boozer knows he is expected to perform better on both ends of the court and have an improved rapport with Noah. It's also important for Boozer to show more consistency on his mid-range jumper, which has been the bread and butter of his game over the course of his career.
"This year I want to play better 'D,' be more efficient offensively, be a better leader, a better teammate and do whatever it takes for our team to win," Boozer said at the start of the shortened training camp.
Expectations for 2011-12 season: Boozer seems to be in much improved basketball shape heading into the new season, having dropped at least 20 pounds in the prolonged offseason, according to Bulls general manager Gar Forman. The 6-foot-8 Boozer struggled in the team's preseason opener, but posted 24 points and seven rebounds while shooting 11-for-17 from the field. If he doesn't have a healthy, productive season, Taj Gibson will become a more popular player in Chicago, which would probably spell doom for the Bulls' season. Still, barring injury, Boozer should be able to average around 20 points and 10 rebounds, but it remains to be seen what kind of defensive effort he will bring to the table each night for coach Tom Thibodeau.