Boozer calls winning championship a "realistic goal"; is he right?

Per ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell:

“A championship,” he told on Wednesday night after a
Nike House of Hoops event. “I think a realistic goal for us is a
championship. I think anything shorter than that we’re setting ourselves
up to be shorter than what we can reach. I think [we have] potential to
be a championship-level team.”

Nick Friedell caught up with Carlos Boozer at the footlocker opening where he was doing a public appearance. [one which was quite a disappointment to fans who waited in line for hours, were sold basketballs and shirts to get ‘autographed’ and then had none of the players stay to do autographs]

If you listen to the interview on ESPN Chicago, he drops the quote at the very end.

First, even if the idea is completely absurd, I want my players to think they can win the title.  I want them to go out with that kind of confidence, swagger, and have that as the mindset.   I understand if they don’t.though.  In a given season, there are probably 3-4 teams with decent odds, another 4-6 teams with a punchers chance, and 20-22 teams with basically no shot.   If a guy is on one of those 20-22 teams, I don’t care if he knows it and says his goal is to make the playoffs.

The Bulls are in the 4-6 group IMO.  Miami, Orlando, Boston, and LA are the teams in that 3-4 group to me, and what’s interesting about that, is you now notice that three of those teams are in the East.   The balance of power is finally starting to shift back to the Eastern conference which now appears fairly top heavy.  

The west makes up most of the punchers chance teams (Utah, Dallas, OKC, maybe Denver if they can get back on the same page with Melo) while the East really only has us as a team with a punchers chance.  [before someone says Atlanta might be better than us, I agree, but they sure as hell don’t have a shot to win the title, and if they are better it’s because we’re a collosal disappointment, not because they’re a championship caliber team].

So is it a realistic goal for us to win a championship?   I say yes.   I think Boozer’s had a realistic chance to win a title in Utah as well though, and even though they never climbed the mountain all the way, they had about as much chance to do so as the Bulls do now.

In fact, comparing the Bulls straight up to past Jazz teams gives us a pretty good shot at where we stand IMO.   Deron Williams in the past couple seasons has been considerably better than Derrick Rose last year.   Can Rose improve to get up to Deron’s level?  Yes, but it’s not a given that this happens.   Williams is a near ideal PG in that he has legit three point range, excellent court vision, can score or run the offense, and plays excellent defense.  He may lack Rose’s unique athletic gifts, but he makes up for them by having an exceptional skill level and no weaknesses.

The Jazz have had a similar caliber front court to what the Bulls bring to the table as well.   You taking Okur/Millsap or Gibson/Noah?    The Okur//Millsap duo is certainly more well rounded, but the Gibson/Noah combo might complement Boozer better by providing more interior defense and shot blocking.   

Korver/Brewer were on the Jazz, so they cancel each other out, and I think Brewer more or less cancels out Matthews even if after Brewer was traded, so you’ve got a wash there.   That leaves us with Deng vs Kirlenko, two different players, but probably similar overall in ability.   The Bulls have a bit more offense at the three and more defense at the 5, while the Jazz were probably the other way around.

Overall, I think the teams are fairly similarly built in terms of depth and overall talent.   The Jazz made it to the WCF before, but they had to fight through a brutal western conference playoff schedule every year.  Don’t look now, but the Bulls now have to fight through a pretty brutal eastern conference playoff schedule each year as well.  It’s likely that our opponents in order to win a title could look like this:
Round 1: Atlanta or Milwaukee
Round 2: One of Orlando/Boston/Miami
Round 3: One of Orlando/Boston/Miami
Round 4: L.A.

I’m not crying about the schedule.  It’d only be slightly easier in the western conference, though for the first time since Jordan played, it would be easier in the west.   It’s just somewhat poor timing that the moment the Bulls ascend to this level, the Eastern conference emerges as the power conference making it so much more difficult to come out of.

Imagine if the Bulls had this team five years ago where the #1 team was Detroit and everyone else was kind of crap.   The Bulls would, at the very least, make it to the ECF with a fair amount of regularity, and they’d almost certainly have a finals appearance.   Now, the East is a murderer’s row, and coming out of it will be tremendously difficult.

To win it all, they’ll have to earn it.  They won’t be able to back into it and get lucky like the Miami Heat did in 2006.   They’ll have to knock off all the elite teams in the league.   Can the Bulls do it?   Carlos Boozer thinks they can, and I’m glad he does.   Personally, my hopes are high, but my predictions are low.


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  • As we're constructed I think it's a pretty slim chance. On the other hand I feel like we're probably one lucky late draft pick or lopsided trade away from being one of the genuine contenders. And that can happen, you look at the Spurs getting Manu & Parker, the Pistons getting Prince and Wallace, or the Lakers getting Gasol.

    Obviously the odds are against it happening, but I think there's good reason to at least be hopeful. We've done the right thing with the short term deals for role players and getting the Bobcats pick to make either scenario as likely as we possibly can.

  • And the clock is ticking on the Celtics. They could be knocked out by injuries at any moment. Over the next five years it's really the Magic and the Heat. And I don't see how the Magic get any better considering how capped out they are, and they've shown they are vulnerable. So it comes down to whether or not the bulls can figure out how to exploit the Heat weaknesses, can get the top seed so that Miami and Orlando face off in the second round, or get lucky and trade for that last piece. The first thing they need to do is gel and learn to play at high level every night.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Not for nothing, the Celtics may very well be the best team in the East. I understand the firepower in Miami and the age of the Celtics, but they have an incredible array of talent, size and career accomplishment / experience on their team. They are not going to finish with the best record but, they are going to do what they have to do to get decent playoff positioning and flip the switch like last season. I don't think anyone wants to see them in the playoffs and would actually favor them to return to the Finals against L.A. for a final rematch tie-breaker. I don't think the Heat have the mental toughness to beat Boston in a seven game series.

  • In reply to jamatokwu:

    Boston if they are to win...the coming year is probably the last and Lakers if they are to win...the coming year and maybe the year after that would be the last.
    So, 2 years from now(unless they are some gift trades for LA or Boston), it looks like Miami, OKC, Portland(if healthy), Orl and Bulls.

    The main guy for Miami is Wade. Bosh clicks when the other two are clicking and LBJ will click because of his talent but if Wade gets injured...then it will be an open route for anyone who steps up...

  • In reply to jamatokwu:

    I think we are really giving Miami too much credit. Their bench is crap right? Two things can happen: 1)Lebron and Wade will be worn into the ground playing 40+ min a game and will not be fresh come playoff time or 2)Lebron and Wade play less minutes and the team record suffers b/c of their lack of depth. Also, if Wade were to go down(which is not unlikely) Lebron would have to carry that team. Now, I know that he has done that in Cleveland...but how long can he continue to shoulder that burden w/o burning out? Unless they have a sixth man of the year on their team the lack of depth is their biggest enemy. Even Boston w/its age is deeper and more likely to stay healthy. The Bulls are by far the deepest team in the East and thus have as good a shot as any in coming out of the East IMO. Oh and Rose...yeah he's gonna be that superstar forget the wondering and guessing HE'S GONNA BE A SUPERSTAR THIS SEASON.

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    The Bulls are not super deep as we think. IMO, they ideally need 3 pieces:
    1. A lock down swing defender like Matt Barnes, Tony Allen. James Johnson can develop into it but he far from that.
    2. A good SG who can shoot threes, defend decently, shoot a Rudy Fernandez(when he played well)...
    3. A big guy who can shoot from the outside like Okur, Brad Miller to space the floor sometimes for Rose, Brewer, Noah kind of players..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    1. You mean like Brewer?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Brewer is a good defender but if he is playing like 30 mins and Deng is playing like 32/35 mins...we need to have someone who needs to be that defender and Brewer will be usually guarding SGs...

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    What is Brewer if not a lock down defender? Deng is no slouch either.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Off topic but... can someone explain to me why Delonte West will work in Boston but not with the Bulls? Veterans leadership? It seems that we are in need of someone with his all-around talents but we are unwilling to take the risk. Disappointing IMO.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Agree, everyone we can use now has some issues..1)JR Smith is immature...2)Rudy F..wants to go back to Spain and Portland wants the world for him...3)West has Bi-Polar disorder but from what I read...he kind of stays to himself.
    If I guess, the Bulls are not like the Celtics in the sense they are still forming chemistry unlike the Celtics. They probably don't want a possible disrupter right away until this team jells

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    we could add Shaq to the list. Not that I loved him but he would have provided something we need.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    If our 3pt shooting improves from Rose and Deng then the 3pt shooting can be handled by our current roster. Also, I don't think a stretch 4 or 5 is really all that neccesary. Efficient scoring coupled with a couple of 3pt threats on the floor at a time is sufficient(think Boston). Also, Brewer is a good enough defender.

    Anyways your response doesn't really address our depth. Of course more can be deciphered once the season begins but as of now it seems that our bench of Watson, Bogans, Korver, Gibson, Asik/Thomas is more than adequate. That lineup has a fairly decent mix of shooting, interior D, and wing D that can sustain 10-12 mins throughout a game. What does Miami have that mirrors or comes close to that depth?

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    Also, don't sleep on NY or NJ. If Melo, CP, or Deron Williams ends up in either of NY or NJ, they would have to be put at the same level as the bulls.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    You think? What would NY or NJ have to give up to acquire Melo? At that point their team would be just as thin as no depth. One injury and its over. Even w/o injury you can't work your starters 44min+ and expect to win anything in the playoffs.

  • In reply to jamatokwu:

    I don't think you have watched Wade close enough then. He definitely has the mental toughness and will be the one who leads the team. The scariest part is that he isn't even the most talented player on the team. Miami is a juggernaut, I wich they weren't, but its true.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    It looks obvious that Miami should be winning in the playoffs. The Bulls if they have a chance it will be in 2 years from now. Rose is not ready to be that superstar yet to score in those crucial playoff games yet. He hasn't even been to the second round(almost in the first year). By that time, Noah, Rose and Deng will be in their prime and Boozer will be kind of in his last 1/2 years of his best. But Miami will be great at that time. The Bulls need to tinker and figure out how to attack that team to win over them.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Why is Rose not ready to make big shots? He made his largest strides in the Boston series 2 years ago, and was one of the only real factors last year. Now he has more weapons around him and another year of experience. I think he will fare quite well this year.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    He will fare well and do well. We are talking about winning in the second, ECF and NBA finals here. We have no idea of how he will do and historically it is doubtful for such young players to make an impact at that level and he has a lot of room to improve

  • If nothing else, I love the attitude Bulls players and the rest of the organization has right now. Fans have caught it, too. We've really embraced the "let everyone else focus on the Heat, we're getting ready to shock the world" attitude. Part of it is the fact that we're fielding the best Bulls team since the dynasty. Another part is that we're led by players that are Warriors and generally unafraid and unimpressed by what you put on paper. We've got an energy and swagger that says "anything is possible and we're the only ones that know it ... for now!" Then again, that could be the patented Chicago Sports Fan Optimism playing tricks on me again!

  • I still don't want the Bulls to waste a first round pick on a guy that wants to go back to his country in a year or two. As far as the Bulls being contenders, They are one good shooting guard that can create his own shot away from being a true contender. The Bulls should wait until the trading deadline to see where the team is as far as what they think they need to make them a true contender. Boozer is right, they should have that mentality of being a championship caliber team because the one team everyone is focusing on is Miami and the Bulls will be better than a lot of the other teams in the east and they need to take advantage of that and rack up the wins and build team chemistry. The Bulls don't play the Heat until the mid to latter part of the season so they should be use to one another by that time. A total team effort will beat Miami cause the Bulls are a very deep team. So again I say Boozer is right to take that mentality into the up coming season.

  • Yeah, but he is saying anything now to get out of Portland. The Bulls should only do the trade if they can get Fernandez to sign for an additional 2 or 3 years, that way they will know he is all in to help the team.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    IMO the comments Rudy F made are due to frustration. While he may indeed want to go back to his country a late first round pick is absolutely worth the risk. Darko was singing this same tune for years, but last year Minnesota gave him a chance to play and he signed a new contract with them this off season. Rudy may come to the Bulls and have a larger role and possibly better chemistry. This could make him happy and he may be more willing to re-up with the Bulls. This is all speculative, but a positive experience could change his mind. He is a talent that appears to fit well with this roster so he is definitely worth risking a late first round pick. I would not trade the Charlotte pick for him though.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    As fans, we should be happy with an ECF appearance, but as players they absolutely must have the goal to win a championship. They are built to win now, look like they might have the coaching, & have 3 potential all-stars in addition to another high quality starter and a deep bench. As long as we have Derrick they should have 1 goal, championship. Ok maybe 2, with improvement being the 2nd

  • In reply to Reese1:

    While I am excited as anyone that the Bulls will finally return to being watchable, as well as competitive, and I think that the current day Jazz comparisons are apt, this team may end up like the Dick Motta Bulls of the early 70's.

    That team featured Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier at guards, Bob Love and Chet Walker at forwards and Tom Boerwinkle and Clifford Ray at center. At one point, I think that all of those guys made at least one allstar team.

    However, despite winning 50 games every year they were never able to get out of their own conference due to the likes of Lew Alcindors Bucks, Wilt and Wests Lakers and finally Rick Barry's Warriors.

    this Bulls team should win 50 games for the foreseeable future, but without a major upgrade they will not be able to get out of their own conference just like the 70's Bulls due at least to Miami and Orlando.

  • I agree with everyone here. The other teams have to walk the same road we do though. Boston may be experienced and at the top of their game when it matters, but going through some combo of Orlando, Miami, us, Atalanta .... it don't know if they have the legs. Orlando may not have enough weapons to do it either. I figure if we stay healthy and gel well enough we have as good a shot as they do - still going to be quite a battle though.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Leave a comment...

  • I think your point is spot on. I have been telling people for month now that if Miami is smart they will split up Wade and LBJ quite regularly. LBJ led Cleveland to 60+ wins with a modest team, and Wade led Miami to the playoffs with a lesser team than that. Now they get to play with the likes of Bosh & Miller. House and others will fill in well around them.

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