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Bulls Wed Jan 09 2013

Like It Or Not, Boozer Is Playing Well

Bulls_200.pngEvery perpetually perturbed Bulls fanatics' worst nightmare has come true. No, Derrick Rose hasn't suffered a set back in his recovery by tripping over the unstable point guard play of Nate Robinson in "predictable contact drills." And fear not, the Bulls aren't going to bring in the recently pink-slipped former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles as coach Tom Thibodeau's new director of "let's further neglect the offensive side of the ball" assistant coaching position. Nope. The worst possible scenario for the ever critical message-board-trolling Bulls fan is that Carlos Boozer is contributing to the Bulls recent success. #SMDH

Carlos Boozer is the latest Bull to rise to the occasion and play well. Over his last five games Boozer is averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds. His big games haven't been against stellar competition (Orlando, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Washington), save for the Miami Heat, but it's been in games where the team has needed him. The term "streaky shooter" isn't applied to front court players often, but Boozer can attribute this quality to his game. He's feeling it right now. He's a career 53% shooter from the field, and during this five game double-double streak he's stayed close to his average (52%), but he's starting to take it to the rim more. I've stated before that Boozer brings his "A" game when playing against softer and/or inexperienced power forwards, and his recent competition falls into said categories (although Miami's Chris Bosh isn't weak or a neophyte, Boozer plays inspired against Bosh, because Boozer doesn't like Bosh because he took his spot on the team in the town where Boozer calls home, during the free agency bonanza of 2010.)

To take the paint intrusive play of Boozer as of late a step further, let's look at the visually conscience shot chart website Vorped. Over the last 30 days (this length still illustrates his recent run), Boozer has taken 50% of his shots right near the basket compared to 45% on the regular season. This can be due to a lot of factors; the play of Joakim Noah this year has started earning him more double teams, this season unlike recent ones the Bulls are shooting poorly from the field, they rank 19th in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 44%, but what I've seen with my own biased eyes (I think Boozer shoots too many jumpers), he's driving more and seems to be fighting for offensive rebounds.

The know-it-all Bulls fan who salivates at the juicy notion of amnestying Boozer this summer then buying out the Real Madrid contract of Bulls 2011 draft pick Nikola Mirotic, is the same Bulls fan who is lapping up Boozer's lush trade value now that he's playing great. It's easy to spend the remaining $40 million owed to Boozer and $2.5 million just to free Mirotic from Spain when it's not on your debit card, as easy as it is to make trades on ESPN's trade machine when all one needs to create a successful trade is matching up dollars and (non)sense.

The only trades I've floated in my residence of covering the Bulls for Gapers Block have been exchanging Rip Hamilton for a three-point shooter, a body with an expiring contract, or to free up playing time for Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler. The team recently added Daequan Cook who is a shooting guard who doesn't hesitate to shoot the corner three. So, Hamilton may still be traded, but don't expect a Boozer move. It's too aggressive. The last time the Bulls made a daring deadline deal was when they traded Ben Wallace for Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes (ultimately trading the two players away again a year later). With bigger name, multi-player, in-season trades, you strike out more often than you hit home runs. The personnel switch freed them financially but hurt their play, as that team missed the playoffs that season. The organization learned a lesson from that ill-advised swapping of "talent" under John Paxson's watch.

Boozer is a very productive part of the team, and just because it's virtually accepted, albeit inaccurately, that Boozer hurts the team more than he helps, he's going to be relied upon to score, especially if Rose struggles when he returns.

Also, it should be known that every time I write a piece about a Bulls player who is getting hot or has an opportunity to play more, his counterpart does well. When Hamilton went down, I surmised Butler will be the primary beneficiary, yet it was Belinelli who cashed in. I postulated that Marquis Teague would shine with a larger role, then Nate Robinson started hitting some big shots. My last piece focused on Gibson, and now Boozer is garnering attention. Let the Nazr Mohammed/Vladimir Radmanovic call to action piece commence!

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