Many Chicago Bulls fans are quick to blame any failure offensively as "Boozer's fault." But they're wrong.
Many expected the veteran to come to Chicago and be an immediate post-presence, especially offensively. Without knowing all the facts, it's easy to say Boozer failed to live up to those expectations and, thus, is the reason the Bulls aren't quite perfect just yet.
Although I must admit, Boozer's numbers have dropped from his great seasons in a Utah Jazz uniform. However, here's one thing that most fans don't realize:
It's not 100 percent his fault.
Some less informed fans may not realize that stats can be misleading, especially "per game" stats. In terms of measuring a player's true ability, per 40 or per 36 minute stats are ideal. '
From Mike Kurylo, the founder of KnickerBlogger.Net:
Throw out a player’s per game stats, and look at per-minute stats instead. Per minute stats are usually measured per 40 minutes. Study, after study, after study shows a player’s per minute production to stay the same despite how many minutes they play.
With this in mind, Boozer's play is a whole different story.
In his best seasons statistically (Utah 2006-2009), the Utah Jazz had a team pace ranging between 91.3-93.3. This was roughly the seventh-fastest pace in the league.
On the Bulls, however, the pace is considerably slower. The Bulls had a pace of 89.1 in the 2011-2012 season. That's 28th in the league (Basketball-Reference.com).
What does that mean? It means that Boozer had two problems.
- Fewer opportunities to score the ball
- A harder time adjusting to tempo offensively (played six seasons with Utah)
That explains the scoring dip of about two to three PP36 (points per 36 minutes) but all things considered, that's not a terribly bad fluctuation. Boozer is also shooting near 54 percent eFG and TS percentage.
2011-2012 Boozer: 53.2% eFG
2007-2008 Boozer: 54.7% eFG
Also, what matters greatly is shot selection. Where is Boozer shooting from?
Fact: Boozer is taking more shots from 10 to 23 feet away from the basket than he has in his entire career, especially from 16 to 23 feet.
He takes 6.2 attempts per 40 minutes from 16 to 23 feet.
At the rim, Boozer shoots 68.1 percent, and from three to nine feet away, 53.8 percent. However, from 16 to 23 feet away Boozer falls to just 45 percent (Hoopdata.com).
The reason Boozer is taking those shots so far away is because that's how the offense is designed. Unfortunately for Boozer, guards or small forwards on the Bulls drive to break down the defense, especially Derrick Rose. This ultimately results in a "kick-out" pass to Boozer sometimes near the top of the key, thus he takes his shot.
Finally, take this into account: Because the Bulls are so deep, particularly at the PF position with Taj Gibson (nearly Sixth Man of the Year) and sometimes others filling in the PF slot such as Noah or Asik, Boozer's minutes have dropped significantly.
2011-2012 Boozer: 29.5 minutes
2007-2008 Boozer: 34.9 minutes
That's a big, big difference and arguably the main reason Boozer's numbers are down in addition to his shot selection.
To put it simply, Boozer is still capable of putting up the numbers he did in Utah (20-plus points per game and 12-plus rebounds), but if Taj Gibson earns more of a time share at the PF position, Boozer will continue to struggle, even more so if his shot selection is reduced to his "kick-out" position.
How can we get Boozer going?
More minutes, a faster pace and some better post-up opportunities. It sounds like a lot but hey, they need to get their money's worth. Otherwise, acquiring Boozer will be looked at as a big blunder for the Bulls organization for years to come.