“A championship,” he told ESPNChicago.com 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.