The 2010 off-season shook up the NBA like few off-seasons ever have before. While most of the attention focused on LeBron James, and to a lesser extent, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it was the most loaded big man free agency group in recent memory.
Thus far, returns on the court, haven’t matched expectations. Does it take more time to integrate a big man into an offense? Were these guys all overrated? Will Carlos Boozer buck the trend?
Chris Bosh has been the most mocked big man acquisition so far. His PER dropped from 25 to 18.1. His scoring per 36 minutes has gone from 23.9 to 15.9, his rebounding has gone from 10.8 to 6.4. You can certainly make the claim that his shots have dropped because of his teammates, and that’d be fair, but his efficiency has gone down as well.
Maybe it’s poor coaching, but you’d think he’d be dropping the more difficult shots each game not the easy ones and have an increase in efficiency even if there’s a decrease in scoring. Given how desperately Miami needs rebounding and interior play his lack of rebounding this season is also surprising.
I can’t say I’ve actually watched David Lee play a game yet this year, but his drop off statistically appears significant as well. He went from a PER of 22.6 to 16.5 with his scoring average per 36 dropping from 19.6 to 14.8. It’s not difficult to imagine the lack of scoring for Lee in the GS guard centric offense, but his FG% has also dropped from 54.5% to 46.4%. Given his large uptick in rebounding this might be a matter of Lee missing a lot of tip shots (which count as an offensive rebound and a field goal miss).
The Warriors are off to a better than expected start to the season, so it’s also hard to proclaim Lee a huge disappointment if they’re winning games, but the production hasn’t been what it was in NY, and you certainly can’t claim the pace is slower now.
Finally, Amare has seen his PER drop from 22.6 to 17.3, and while his scoring has only dropped from 24.1 to 21.7 per 36, his FG% has dropped from 55.7% to 45.3%. Watching Marion and Amare on teams other than the Suns probably lends a lot of credence to why Steve Nash won the MVP award.
Now it’s early for all these players, real early. They could get much better. They may need to integrate with their teams more, who knows. We’ll have to wait and see.
However, the fourth major big man acquisition has yet to step on the floor. Carlos Boozer hasn’t even had a preseason game to judge him by yet, but he had the stitches on his hand removed and is two weeks away from fully practicing with the team. This puts him on target with the generally expected recovery path for his injury.
Can Boozer buck the trend that Lee, Amare, and Bosh have set? I think we’ll need to be patient with Boozer as the deck is stacked against him even worse than Lee, Amare, and Bosh since he hasn’t even had a preseason to practice and adjust to his teammates. I’ll be excited to see him back on the court, but I won’t be surprised if takes a month to work him effectively into the offense and get him on the same page with everyone else.
I expect the Bulls to try bringing Boozer off the bench for a couple of games initially in limited minutes, but how long will they do that which brings up an interesting question. If he does take awhile to play well then what if he can’t outplay Taj Gibson? Do you still promote him to the starting lineup?
Gibson has a 19.9 PER and is averaging 18.3 points, 7.7 boards, 1.7 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1 steal per 36 minutes right now on FG% of 61.3%. While I expect those numbers to take a healthy dive over the next month, what if they don’t and Boozer is struggling out of the gates?
Too early to talk about a controversy there, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we’re arguing about this in February.