Is Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer an Elite Power Forward Again?

Mike B.Correspondent IFebruary 16, 2013

Nov. 14, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) stands on the court during the game against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Bulls defeated the Suns 112-106 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago BullsCarlos Boozer is having a great season, but is he an elite power forward?

Whatever your answer to that question, you can’t deny he was one of the league’s top power forwards as a member of the Utah Jazz.

During his six-year tenure in Utah (2004-10), the former Duke star was named an All-Star twice, earned a spot on the All-NBA Third Team once and won a gold medal with the “Redeem Team” in 2008. In addition, he averaged 19.3 points and 10.5 rebounds in his Jazz career.

Boozer put together a phenomenal 2006-07 campaign, producing 20.9 points and 11.7 rebounds a night. He scored a career-high 41 points twice that season, once in the regular season versus the Washington Wizards and the other against the Houston Rockets in the playoffs.

Boozer reached the 30-point mark five times during that postseason, as he led the Jazz all the way to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. It was Utah’s first trip to the Conference Finals since 1998, back when Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone were still in town.

Boozer would sign with the Bulls in 2010, after the team failed to land fellow free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Instead of emerging as the ideal sidekick for Derrick Rose, Boozer has often been criticized for his less-than-stellar play on the court. Many Bulls fans believe he isn’t worth his massive contract and should be either amnestied or traded as soon as possible.   

Fortunately, after the calendar year changed to 2013, Boozer stepped his game up dramatically. He poured in 31 points versus the Orlando Magic in his first game of ’13.

Then a few days later, Boozer was instrumental in the Bulls’ win over the Miami Heat down in South Beach. He scored 27 points and grabbed 12 boards versus James and the defending champion Heat, showing flashes of the player he used to be in Utah.     

And on Jan. 16 against the Toronto Raptors, Boozer would drop 36 points, his biggest point total since joining the Bulls.

Other notable January performances include 24 points and 11 rebounds versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, 22 points and 11 rebounds versus the Milwaukee Bucks and 19 points and 20 rebounds versus the Boston Celtics.       

Boozer is currently averaging 15.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. More importantly, he has teamed with Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to lead the Bulls to a respectable 30-22 record this season.  That’s a pretty impressive record, seeing that superstar Derrick Rose hasn’t played a game since April (torn ACL).

While both Deng and Noah were named All-Stars this year, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau believes Boozer should’ve made the team as well (via the Chicago Tribune).  

"These things are always tough because there is limited space and deserving players. But Carlos has been unbelievable, so I think he's deserving."

Noah also thinks Boozer should’ve been an All-Star.

"I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for Carlos especially. He demands so much attention because of how good he is offensively. I'm able to get a lot of easy baskets because of Carlos' passing ability.”

So do you consider Boozer an elite power forward?

The Association’s best at the position include the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love (when healthy), the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The chart below compares a trio of power forwards’ stats to Boozer’s.

As you can see, Boozer’s numbers aren’t bad at all. Although his scoring could be a little better, he’s second on the chart in rebounding behind Randolph. Plus, his field-goal percentage is right on par with the other three players.  

It’s unlikely Boozer will ever be the 20-10 guy that he once was, and he may never make another All-Star team. However, one thing is sure—he’s still a quality contributor.