As the player that Bulls fans love to hate, Boozer cannot do anything good. No matter how hard he tries.
Boozer may never admit this, but he tried too hard to earn the favor of Bulls fans. It cost him his effectiveness while robbing fans of the player he was for the Utah Jazz. Boozer spoke of the differences in playing for the Bulls versus playing in Utah in a recent story (via ESPNChicago.com):
I'm playing with way more scorers than I did in Utah. Fourth quarter in Utah, I'm getting 10 shots a quarter because the offense is me and D-Will (Deron Williams). In the fourth quarter here, I'm getting offensive rebounds and double-team kick-outs and maybe one or two shots. The looks here are way different, our offense here is very different.
Boozer spoke about his current state of mind:
I don't care about my stats. I know the fans do, (but) I care about wins. If I'm averaging 20 (points) and 15 (rebounds) and we win a championship, great. If I'm averaging 10 and 10 and we win a championship, great. As long as we win championships. We built this thing up here to win a championship.
When he played in Utah, Boozer was a fine player, catching passes off pick-and-roll plays from Deron Williams. When Boozer received the ball, he was already in position to score. With opposing defenders trying to contain Williams’ scoring prowess, Boozer was able to reap the rewards.
Among those rewards were open jumpers and empty pathways to the basket.
Boozer attempted to duplicate this for the Bulls in an effort to justify the five-year, $75 million contract the Bulls gave him in the 2010 offseason. A broken hand (via ESPNChicago.com) before training camp began halted Boozer’s mission to please Chicago fans. He immediately became an easy target after the injury.
While sitting out, Boozer released a letter to his fans on his website (via www.carlosboozer5.com):
Watching my teammates from the bench is tough, and I'm so anxious to get back. My recovery from a broken hand is progressing on schedule, and I hope to be back on the floor very soon. When on the court I'm a ferocious competitor who's going to mix it up in the paint--I'll be doing a lot of posting up and high pick and roll with Derrick (Rose)--but for me it's the intangibles. I bring leadership, focus and a big-time hunger to win. The great thing about our team is we have a group of guys with that same hunger. It's contagious.
Expectations rose but Boozer did not deliver on what he promised. His struggles were not entirely his fault as the injury proved to be a huge setback.
His defense was erratic and his conditioning was not up to NBA standards. Not to mention that, by missing all of training camp, Boozer had little cohesion with his Bulls teammates, especially with center Joakim Noah.
Boozer and Noah would often fight each other for rebounds. If Noah got into position to work the glass, Boozer was right there, usually in the same spot as the rebounds became available.
It was frustrating to see that the chemistry problems were not isolated to just rebounding.
Both players could not communicate on defense. Boozer would be out of position on defense often. When that happened, Noah would clean up the mistakes. This allowed the players he guarded to get easier shots.
Because of his defensive performances, Boozer did not make himself a favorite amongst Bulls fans. On offense, Boozer played well.
His 17.5 PPG in his first season with the Bulls was close to his career scoring average of 17 points a game. His .510 shooting percentage was admirable also.
Boozer’s second year with the Bulls was interesting.
His scoring average dipped to 15 points per game, but he was the only Bulls starter to play in all 66 games. Last season was the only year in Boozer’s career he has played in every contest. His health was not a factor.
Can Bulls fans embrace Carlos Boozer if he has a good season?
Boozer must stay healthy this season if the Bulls look to contend for a playoff spot.
Not only did Boozer appear to be in superb shape during training camp, but he looks quicker on the basketball court with and without the ball. His cuts across the floor are fluid after he sets a screen. This allowed the Bulls to get into a better rhythm on the offensive end during the preseason.
While Boozer’s offense may be reminding some observers of his days with the Jazz, his most noticeable improvement has come on the other end of the floor.
Defensively, he looks engaged. The effort is there and his rotations were timely in the preseason. It looks like the problems with his lateral quickness on the defensive end are gone.
That is not to say that Boozer will become a candidate for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, but he may no longer be a total liability for the Bulls on defense.
A constant effort on both defense and offense is how Boozer can win over fans in the Windy City.
Without Derrick Rose for probably the first half of the season, Boozer will have the chance at leading the Bulls in scoring. That would be a primary reason the Bulls will compete this season. Sadly, even if Boozer averages 25 points, the fans may not embrace him. If his defense continues its steady improvement and he can be consistent at guarding the basket, fans will finally love him.
Boozer scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the Bulls’ season opening 93-87 win (from ESPN.com) versus the Sacramento Kings was a good start. The icing on the cake for Boozer was that seven of those points and a key offensive rebound came in a decisive fourth quarter. He also had a steal and a blocked shot.