The only topic more controversial than whether Derrick Rose should come back or not was what to do with starting power forward Carlos Boozer. Boozer is often a lightning rod topic in regards to Bulls fans and basketball fans in general. You often here the same talking points regarding Boozer and frankly there is a great deal of validity to what is said about Boozer and his major glaring weakness. Boozer as a defensively liability on a team where defense that is the Bulls calling card. Despite being a physically strong low post player with a chiseled 6’8, 270 pound frame, Boozer offers very little at the defensive end. In fact when he makes a sound defensive play, you’re surprised like watching a 10 year old scoring his first touchdown in pee wee football.
This has led to many fans almost begging the Bulls brain trust to use the amnesty clause so that Boozer is no longer a member of the team. Especially with reserve power forward Taj Gibson (a defensive stud with solid offensive ability) waiting in the wings. You might believe say that I’m actually making the case for disgruntled fans, but I whole heartedly disagree. Even in a season with Luol Deng and Joakim Noah making the All-Star team and the emergence of Jimmy Butler, I say the best factor of the 2013 season was Boozer almost finding himself again.
For all of his defensive struggles, Boozer is a excellent offensive player 15 feet and in. Boozer shot a career low 47.7% from the floor, but that was to be expected. Due to a increased shot attempts, being the focus of opposing defenses, and the lack of consistent perimeter shooting. Still, Boozer played close to the level on being an All-Star. Boozer got of to a slow start, but hit his stride in the in January averaging 19ppg and 10rpg. That play continued for much of the second season posting 17.1ppg and 10.5rpg after the All-Star break. (15.7ppg and 9.3 pre all-star break). Boozer his trademark high arching jumper and has arguably the best off hand in the NBA short of Mike Conley Jr. Boozer finished the regular season ranking fifth in the NBA with double-doubles with 44 and still leads the 2013 post season with six despite the Bulls being eliminated. Boozer and Noah also have great chemistry in the interior passing game which is only rivaled by the Memphis tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Boozer is also a great teammate who doesn’t sulk on the bench despite many times being substituted for Gibson a great deal during crunch times. For all of the complaints about Boozer, it’s time for Chicago fans to acknowledge Boozer for what he does bring to the table.
Now that Boozer was forced to be more aggressive during the 2013 campaign, it will be important for Boozer to remain in attack mode with the return of Rose in 2014. Too often in previous seasons Boozer seemed to be content with launching 14 foot jumpers vs attacking his opponent. For the Bulls to be successful in 2014 Boozer will be need to be a major factor. If he isn’t, then it’s quite possible the disgruntled fans may get what they want in the form of an amnesty.
Final Grade: B