The Chicago Bulls were one of the most storied franchises in the NBA last year. However, after losing in the playoffs, many have seen major weakness in the infrastructure of the team and have been calling for major changes in this offseason.
I, on the other hand, feel that the Bulls are only minor tweaks and changes away from being perennial championship contenders, and plan to address a few of those tweaks in a series of articles.
In the first, we consider Carlos Boozer and how he can take the Bulls to the next level.
Carlos Boozer was the Bulls' prize coming out of the much-hyped free-agent class of 2010. He is a crafty veteran and the consummate offensive-minded post player.
Rather than relying on elite quickness, he scores more effectively by throwing defenders off balance with pump fakes and jab steps. His skill-set is rather unique in the NBA today, as more players tend to rely on athleticism and strength over cunning and finesse.
That skill-set does come with its drawbacks, though. Because he has almost no shred of athleticism, his defensive footwork is rather poor, and his lateral quickness can be equated to that of a three-toed sloth.
Okay, maybe not that bad, but he's slow—and we all know it.
Even though he is going to be 30 years old in the (theoretical) beginning of the 2011-12 season, he still has plenty left in the tank. He averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds in 2010-11, despite only playing in 59 games.
How He Can Take the Team to the Next Level
The most glaring thing that Boozer could work on is his defense.
It would be easy for us, as fans, to point the finger at that being the root cause of his (and for the most part, the Bulls') struggles last season. If he could become a better defender, he could stay out of foul trouble, on the court, and he would likely put the ball in the hole a lot more frequently.
But what constitutes a good defender? Is it the ability to block shots? Is it a keen sense of awareness regarding the assignment? Is it possessing the quickness to stay with the assignment as he moves with the ball?
A good defender is all of these things, yes. But it all starts with conditioning.
Even Gar Forman and the rest of the Bulls management recognize it. Now that his ankles and his turf toe are healed, Carlos needs to develop a good, solid conditioning regiment during this extended offseason. Not only would this help his lateral quickness and footwork on defense, but it would also help him to stay healthy.
And everybody knows that a healthy Boozer is about three-to-four points and two-to-three rebounds better every night. Comparing his statistical output over his career shows that in years that he plays in more than 60 games, he averages significantly more offensive output than in years that he struggles with injury.
So, here's to hoping that Boozer hits the gym this offseason. It would help his production on both ends of the floor—and help him earn that $13.5 million salary.
But, as always, these are only my opinions. I could be wrong.