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Why is Joakim Noah cracking Carlos Boozer upside the head? Probably because he just blew a defensive assignment.
Carlos Boozer has been the victim of many a hypothetical crack to the head by fans since his arrival in Chicago, mostly because his defense is flat-out awful.
What most people aren't aware of is that Boozer is a much better defender when he's defending the center position than when he's defending the power forward position. Here is Opponent's Player Efficiency Rating guarding the power forward and center positions over the last five years.
|Year ||Team ||
OPER Center ||
OPER Power Forward ||Difference ||
|2012 ||Bulls ||12.7 ||17.3 ||4.6 ||
|2011 ||Bulls ||14.6
|2010 ||Jazz ||16.9 ||18.6 ||2.3 ||
|2009 ||Jazz ||18.1 ||23.4
There are two things worth noting here. First, he's actually gradually improved at both positions, but secondly, he's always better at defending the center position. In fact, last season he defended the center position better than Joakim Noah (15.3) or Omer Asik (15.9).
Just in case you're wondering Taj Gibson's was an absolutely nutty 6.6, but it was only for one percent of the minutes.
There's also the chance that part of the reason Boozer's better than Asik or Noah is that while he had Gibson playing the power forward while he was the center, Asik and Noah had him, which means they had to bail him out repeatedly, whereas he probably didn't have to bail out Gibson all that often.
Still, a four-year trend can't be denied, especially when it spans two teams.
Boozer is physically better equipped to defend the center position than he is power forward. He has lower body strength which he uses well. He's tough to move out of the way.
He's also a fraction too slow to play the power forward but that's not as much an issue with center.
Strength, especially lower body strength, fits better for a center. Fast fits better for a power forward.
Noah, on the other hand, is one of the most athletic defensive bigs in the league. He's extremely quick, and has even guarded LeBron James successfully one-on-one in isolation.
Offensively they should retain their traditional roles, but on defense Boozer and Noah should swap spots.