Carlos Boozer Just as Critical as Derrick Rose for Chicago Bulls' Playoff Hopes

Andres MonteroContributor IMarch 9, 2013

Feb 24, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) reacts to a play in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In order for the Chicago Bulls to have a successful playoff run, Derrick Rose will have to be at his best. However, Carlos Boozer is just as important if the Bulls want to avoid an early-round exit.

The buzz on Rose's return is at an all-time high, especially after reports surfaced (via ESPN Chicago) that he was medically cleared to play.

There's no doubting what he brings to this Bulls team: leadership, instant offense and a closer in tight-game situations.

What Boozer brings is just as crucial.

He provides a way for Chicago to execute their half-court offense and when he gets going early, he is one of the most efficient and effective big men in the NBA.

Boozer is at his best when he is aggressive and attacking the basket. He relies heavily on his ability to shoot from mid-range, but his numbers show that he should try to go inside more often.

According to, Boozer shoots a combined 37.7 percent when he's three feet or farther from the rim (excluding three-pointers).

Now, it's not easy to constantly get in the paint and lay it up every single possession, but if Boozer didn't settle for jumpers as often as he does and attacked the rim instead, he would either get a better look or draw contact and go to the line.

Boozer is too quick for bigger defenders and is usually bigger and stronger than defenders who can match his quickness. This makes it easy for him to either take his defender off the dribble or bully his way inside the paint.

Unfortunately, Boozer has cooled down since January.

His drop-off hasn't come a great time, either. The Bulls are coming off their worst month of the season and are now heading into the final stretch of the season.

Boozer has had a history of disappearing in the playoffs. In the Bulls' two playoff runs since 2011, Boozer has averaged just 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. That's about a three-point drop from his season averages in those same two seasons.

In last year's playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Boozer scored nine or fewer points in three of the six games. One of those games was Game 6, where he was nowhere to be found.

In the 2012 postseason, Boozer failed to record at least 15 points in 10 of the 16 games.

As the 2013 playoffs get closer, Boozer will have to step up and lead his team—offensively, at least.

Chicago might not see the Utah Jazz Boozer that averaged over 20 points and 12 rebounds in the playoffs, but a boost from his current season numbers will be necessary.

Aside from the Indiana Pacers, the Eastern Conference doesn't have many teams with a tough, physical frontcourt. If Boozer can catch fire towards the end of the season, it could make the Bulls' road through the playoffs a little easier.

He currently has a playoff average of 17.8 points and 11.6 rebounds. If he can live up to those numbers in the upcoming postseason, the Bulls will have great success.

The Bulls need an aggressive Boozer come playoff time, especially if Rose isn't up to speed by then. If he continues to fade away in the playoffs, the Bulls' offseason could start sooner rather than later.