Examining Why Carlos Boozer Doesn't Fit with the Chicago Bulls

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Examining Why Carlos Boozer Doesn't Fit with the Chicago Bulls
Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

With Derrick Rose out for most of the year, Chicago and NBA fans will have more time to get closer looks at players on the Bulls that may have been overshadowed.

With how well the team does with Rose suiting up, it's easy to look past the flaws on Chicago's roster, but without him in the lineup, it's time to look at some of the weaker points on the Bulls. One player in particular that must be examined is Chicago's current starting power forward Carlos Boozer.

Boozer is a great offensive post player, who uses good moves and his ambidextrousness to create offense in the paint. Additionally, he is a very good rebounder who can get double-digit boards on the regular.

This all sounds good and great for the Bulls, but the problem with Boozer and how he fits in with the team is that he is not a very good team or individual defender.

Under the reign of head coach Tom Thibodeau, Chicago has become one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Last season, the Bulls lead the league in the least points per game allowed (88.2) and second in opponent field goal percentage (42 percent). 

Without much of a shotblocking tendency or a nose for coming up with steals in the post, there really isn't much to see in the box score for Boozer. In terms of his defensive play outside of the stats, it is also pretty forgettable, at best.

Part of Boozer's problem on defense is that he is a bit undersized for his position (6'9") and has a tougher time dealing with the height and length advantage others may impose on him. Another part to it is that Boozer has often been more offensive-minded throughout his career, and hasn't had much experience playing in such a defense-intensive environment like the one in Chicago.

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Since Boozer doesn't fit in to the defensive scheme, Chicago still had hopes of him pitching in pretty heavily on offense. However, this hasn't exactly been the case in Boozer's Bulls career. Last season, he put up very average numbers of 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest, which could have been even higher considering the Bulls' leading scorer, Rose, was out for a good amount of the season.

When he came over to Chicago as a free agent in the summer of 2010, he signed a 5 year/$80 million deal, which seemed about worth it at the time, since he was coming off a solid year of 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest and a career high in field goal percentage (56.2 percent).

To make matters worse for Boozer, his primary reserve, Taj Gibson, has just inked a four year, $38 million extension with Chicago, which could be a sign that the Bulls are prepared to turn to Gibson for the long term.

If this was the case, Chicago may look into using the amnesty clause on Boozer, who is due to make $47.1 million over the next three years. By doing so, the Bulls can open a lot of cap room and in the process, work Gibson into playing more minutes.

An increase in playing time for Gibson could give the Bulls an overall boost, since Gibson is a much more physical defender who would complement center Joakim Noah nicely in the post. 

Now that the Bulls are going to be able to examine a team without Rose, they can make the necessary adjustments to make sure the best players are surrounding their superstar and that they have cap flexibility to make adjustments to their roster down the road.

Without Rose, the Bulls are going to be pretty strapped for offense, and a lot of plays may run through Boozer in the post. If he continues to produce at a pedestrian level, there's no reason that the Bulls should keep him around with that salary, when they could be using that money on a more productive and cheaper player.

More importantly, Boozer is going to have to start showing that he's making strides to mesh into a better defensive player if he wants to keep his starting job or even his job as a Chicago Bull.

There's no question that he's struggled in recent seasons as a Bull, but Boozer is too expensive to keep waiting on and Chicago may bite the bullet on him, especially if they end up falling out of the playoff picture without D-Rose. 

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