Carlos Boozer Must Focus on Defense for Chicago Bulls to Reach NBA Finals

Michael GibbonsCorrespondent IIOctober 4, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  Carlos Boozer #5 and Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls looks on against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Heat won 83-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The first three-peat team had Horace Grant.

The second three-peat team had Dennis Rodman.

If the Chicago Bulls have any chance of making to the NBA Finals, then Carlos Boozer needs to be a mix of the two.

Last summer Boozer was signed by the Chicago Bulls to be the second offensive option behind franchise cornerstone Derrick Rose. However, during the season it became clear that the Bulls have an extremely deep team, and on any any given night there are two or three guys ready to step up and help Rose carry the offensive load.

However, what also became clear is that Boozer's defense—or lack thereof—cannot be hidden on this team. Often during the playoffs, Boozer would find himself being replaced early in games by Taj Gibson because he was unable to even slow down the other team's power forward or center. Head coach Tom Thibodeau is a defense-first kind of coach, and if Boozer can't play defense he won't be playing much.

Everyone knows how good of a defender Rodman was, and no one is expecting Boozer to be that, but is it too much to ask for him to be like Grant?

Many people forget that Grant was a pretty good defensive player. He was named to the all-defensive second team four times, starting in 1993 when he helped the Bulls win their third title and in 1994 when made his first and only All-Star team.

During game one against the Pacers, Boozer was unable to slow down Tyler Hansbrough, who scored 22 points while Boozer collected five personal fouls. In Game 5 he only played 16 minutes because of early foul trouble. His defense was a little better against the Hawks, but then in the conference finals against Chris Bosh it was awful.

During that Miami series, Boozer wasn't asked to guard Bosh a lot, but when he was it was almost like he wasn't there. Bosh scored more than 30 points twice and averaged more than 22 points for the series while Boozer didn't play at least 30 minutes in three of those games.

The Bulls don't need Boozer to be like Rodman—they have Joakim Noah for that. However, if they are going to make it to the NBA Finals, they need Boozer to be on the floor, and that will only happen with improved defense. Otherwise, Boozer might want to find a comfortable seat on the bench because Gibson will be getting the bulk of his minutes, and that will not make this team as good.

Just imagine how good this Bulls team can be with a healthy Carlos Boozer who is dedicated to working hard on the defensive end of the floor. Wouldn't that be a fun team to watch?