Listen to me long enough, however, and you'll certainly hear me expose the warts with this team. They exist in all teams, and I don't pull any punches when I see them.
I've received some questions about why I never talk about Carlos Boozer. "Yo Mr. Chicago Bulls Blog...you'll talk about Jimmy Butler like he's your cousin. You'll talk about Kirk Hinrich like he's the modern day Bob Cousy. Heck...you'll cover Dexter Pittman's life story before you talk about Carlos Boozer. What gives?".
What gives is Carlos Boozer REALLY frustrates me. I want to state up front that Carlos seems like a GREAT guy. He's rather active in the Chicago and NBA community, and I can't think of one bad thing he has said to the media in his 3 years of being here. Not one.
|Wizards v/s Bulls 02/28/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
What Carlos Boozer is not textbook in is being what you want from your $15 million a year starting power forward on a championship caliber team.
See the numbers lie with Carlos Boozer....well at least the surface numbers do. It would be so easy to just say.."Oh...40 plus double doubles last year...oh 16 points and 10 rebounds a game last year...what's the problem, ChiBullsBeat?". You have to dig deeper than the surface to see the problem.
It's well-chronicled that Tom Thibodeau often sits Carlos Boozer down the stretch of games...and no, we're not talking just blowouts. We're talking close games on a team that has been pretty desperate for generating offense. Even with Boozer leading the team in scoring last year, he sat many fourth quarters.
While Luol Deng and Joakim Noah were playing RIDICULOUS minutes last season, with body parts falling off by the end, Boozer was watching from the sidelines in many games. In Carlos's defense...he doesn't want to sit out fourth quarters. In Tom Thibodeau's defense, he understands what lurks beneath the surface.
We all know Boozer's defense is laughable. Instead of reacting, Carlos PONDERS as someone with the ball goes right by him(often the guy he's taking). Usually his pondering leads to the decision that just standing there doing nothing is the best option.
Watch the tape..it happens several times a game."Help Defense" to Boozer is providing the jersey number of the guy who just just scored on him to stats keepers.
To be fair...I don't even think much about his defense when assessing Carlos Boozer. We knew going in this was his Achilles heels, Achilles feet and Achilles legs. Some tasks are too great a challenge for even the very best teachers, Tom Thibodeau included.
What kills me about Carlos Boozer is that he's the Alfonso Soriano of basketball. Even his positive numbers are padded. Carlos Boozer does enough BAD things in the course of a game to usually nullify the good....but the box score shows 16/10 and you leave it alone.
I was on repeat all last season for screaming to anyone who'd listen, "He's the worst player out there...he's killing us...take him out...keep him out...you can't win with him. His 16/10 is only 6/3. Don't you see it? He's the death of this team!" I meant it then, I mean it now. It's not personal.
I was rather surprised that more people didn't criticize Boozer, to the point where I was THRILLED when Stacy King said on ESPN Radio during the post-season "Carlos has to play better".
Doesn't sound like much, but when all I heard were people dissecting the mistakes of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, two guys playing triple the amount of minutes they were signed on for as bench pieces now turned playoff saviors, King's simple criticism on Boozer was a major "HALLELUJAH!" moment for me...validation I wasn't the only one terribly disturbed by the "Booze Cruise" as King affectionately calls Carlos.
"Game Score"(GmSc) is a statistic developed by John Hollinger, former ESPN writer turned Memphis Grizzlies's Vice President of Basketball Operations. He landed this gig by being a true numbers-crunching geek who had a popular system for assessing a players value. He's most known for his PER statistic, a more elaborate formula on player efficiency.
Game Score looks at "how impressive" a players efficiency was for a given game. It takes into account several statistics...good and bad. Turnovers, fouls and missed shots will diminish positive stats such as shots made, points scored, rebounds, blocks, steals, etc. It creates a checks and balances system for a comprehensive individual basketball performance all in a single scoring value.
Here is the exact Hollinger Game Score formula:
"Points + (FGM x 0.4) + (FGA x -0.7) + ((FTA-FTM) x -0.4) + (OREB x 0.7) + (DREB x 0.3) + STL + (AST x 0.7) + (BLK x 0.7) + (PF x -0.4) - TO"
While it looks a bit whacky, it provides a very accurate assessment of what a player is worth when applied. I decided to average out given players Games Scores over an entire season. Here are the most productive Power Forwards from last season:
|Game Score Avg. '12-'13 Regular Season||Game Score Avg. '12-'13 Playoffs|
So on the surface, I'm sure some of you figure the 11th best power forward out of 30 teams isn't bad, right? Have to disagree here. Carlos Boozer makes 15M a year. His opportunity to have a career best season, with D. Rose being out and Noah and Deng missing plenty of games, was obvious.
Instead...he's just slightly ahead of guys like Anderson, Faried and Thompson? He's less "impressive" than a 37 yr old Garnett, a rookie with only one year of college ball in Davis, and a guy who played less minutes in Millsap? Even Bosh, a terribly distant third option to Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, outperformed Boozer...by 13% to be exact.
|English: LaMarcus Aldridge playing with the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
What's worse...Boozer is 11th on a rather UNIMPRESSIVE list of power forwards. With the high man only at 15.94 Game Score, Lamarcus Aldridge was still 38% more efficient/impressive than Carlos. That's a rather big difference!
While Boozer's production went DOWN in the playoffs...he was somehow second highest on that list. Most of his peer's performances dropped right along with him in the post-season, or they didn't play in the playoffs.
What's happened to Power Forwards in the NBA? Kevin Love may have been the best on that list if he played, but still...that's pretty anemic.
Lets take a look at some of the Power Forwards I grew up with...and what their production was at the same age Boozer was last season:
|Game Score Avg. at Age 30 Regular Season||Game Score Avg. at Age 30 Playoffs|
I realize it's unfair to compare Boozer to Hall of Fame caliber players, but I'm showing this to you for a few reasons. For starters, simply realize that "today's best" in Aldridge doesn't hold a candle to the best power forwards of the last few eras before him. Not statistically at least.
Here you can see what great Power Forwards should tally under Game Score. To think that Boozer is 38% less efficient than Aldridge...while Aldridge pales in comparison to the best power forwards from years past...puts things into perspective on Carlos AND the state of the NBA I'd say.
This also dispels the notion that Game Score does not lend itself to bigs. The top five in this PF list have a very high score that will be more obvious below. And with Rodman...here's a one-way player who wouldn't have known offense if Michael Jordan was his siamese twin...yet he still had enough of an all-around game to net you 14 pts in GmSc...20% more impact.than Boozer.
Now lets take a look at how todays most impactful players fair under GmSc averages:
|Game Score Avg. '12-'13 Regular Season||Game Score Avg. '12-'13 Playoffs|
Even the most productive Power Forward's in the league today would still fall below the value of this list. It's just a weak position for the league right now.
It also shows you where guys like Malone, Barkley, Garnett, Nowitzki and Duncan, in their prime, would line up today....right in the same range with the CP3, Westbrook, Melo and "Older Kobe"...which I would have envisioned even without statistics.
Who we perceive as the "great players" in this league and years past...it's not a coincidence that they also are the leaders in Game Score...which is why I respect this statistic. There are no gotchas or loop holes. The best in the game rise to the top under this formula.
Look how much further ahead Lebron and Durant are by the way. It makes sense how in this current NBA landscape there's Lebron and Durant...and then the rest of the league far behind. The numbers back that, and the amount of focus placed on the two is warranted.
Curious how they would stack up against the all time best you ask? Look no further than His Airness. Here's Mr. Jordan's GmSc at the age of 30...just before his first retirement:
|English: Picture of Michael Jordan at a basketball game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Game Score Avg at age 30. Regular Season||Game Score Avg. at age 30 Playoffs|
Just incredible...and it shows you how great Lebron and Durant are as well...not far off from the best ever in Jordan.
How about three other legends of modern day hoops while we're at it:
|Game Score Avg. at age 30 Regular Season||Game Score Avg. at age 30 Playoffs|
|English: Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics Larry Bird in Game two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston Garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
These numbers cement Lebron James and Kevin Durant in the realm of Jordan, Magic, Bird and Kobe in their prime. It also ends the debate on who was better between Jordan and Kobe...not that a debate should have even existed on that.
Now debating Lebron and Kobe? That has some merit. According to GmSc, Lebron wins by about 15%.
To put into perspective how great Jordan was...look at a guy like Chris Paul who I HIGHLY respect and who is considered by many to be one of the two best all around players in the game today. His 18.2 GmSc means Jordan still out-performed him by 40%! There simply will never be another MJ.
Meanwhile...lets circle back to the topic at hand. The story I felt was most overlooked in lasts years playoffs was how bad Carlos Boozer failed the Bulls when they needed him most. Take a look at these numbers:
|Carlos Boozer GmSc Avg. in '12-13 Playoffs|
|Last 3 Games of Brooklyn Series||8.2|
|First 4 Games of Miami Series||5.8|
|First 2 Games of Miami Series||0.8|
16/10 in the regular season goes out the window when you put up numbers like these when it matters most, doesn't it? There's just no room or excuse for them really.
Keep in mind that Carlos played great the first four games of the Brooklyn series...averaging a 16 GmSc. That was all-star caliber from him, and one of the reasons the Bulls got off to such a hot start in that series. It's not that he CAN'T do it. It's that he doesn't do it consistently. Why?
Then Deng and Hinrich are lost for the playoffs and the Bulls turn to Boozer for even more of an impact to help close out the series. What happens when called on? Boozer lays a total egg with a 6.7 average for the next two games, forcing the series to the brink, which the Bulls won despite his 10.9 game 7. An 8.2 Game Score over the last three games when he was needed most. Ouch.
How did he rebound from that nauseating showing ? Game 1 against Miami he goes for a whopping -.5 points. Yes, you read that right...negative points. Punctured blow up dolls can get you better than negative points. Think he rebounded in Game 2? Well only if a 2.0 GmSc is improvement to you.
A former two-time All Star and Olympian making 15M gets you .8 GmSc for the first two games of round 2. That's unheard of really. He would have done no worse if he didn't play at all. I mean it's not like he is 40 yrs of age and past the age of retirement. He's 31! That showing is end of roster material.
It's not just last year either! In his first post-season with the Bulls, Carlos had a trivial 9.5 GmSc. Even worse than last season's 11.3. In his second post-season here, he was even more brutal with a 7.0 GmSc. This is NOT what the Bulls signed up for and everyone knows it. It's why you hear "amnesty" and "Boozer" connected so often.
The year the Bulls signed Boozer he had just come off a 17.1 regular season/18.2 playoff GmSc. Those are top tier NBA numbers which would warrant 15M.
Since then, he hasn't eclipsed higher than 12.6 GmSc in either regular season or playoffs for three straight seasons.
How do you drop nearly 50% in effectiveness that quickly? That's not a "disappointment". That's a terrible bust...and 16 points and 10 rebounds a game doesn't band-aid it...hence why Carlos often sits in 4th quarters. The back of the playing card wouldn't suggest it...but Carlos has been a failure here.
Derrick Rose will be back this season and with him comes serious hope. Want to know what D. Rose did in Game Score for his MVP campaign, the last full season he played?
|Game Score Avg. '10-'11 Regular Season||Game Score Avg. '10-'11 Playoffs|
That may not be Lebron or Durant stature, and it's certainly not Michael Jordan's level...but what you're adding to your team, impact-wise, is a Carmelo Anthony or a Chris Paul or a Russell Westbrook and it will be entirely welcomed. It's your dynamic player. You're adding a top 5 producer in the NBA back into your lineup, and he's probably as hungry as the other four guys put together.
Considering Joakim Noah led the Bulls in Game Score Average last year at 13.25, you're talking about a massive injection of talent...someone who is 40%+ more productive/proficient than your second best player in Noah, who's an all star mind you. When you add that caliber of player to a team which made it into the second round, it's hard to ignore their chances. It's THE off-season addition to be reckoned with.
Of course, if you want to be a team planning a parade at the end of June, Carlos Boozer must find a way to dig up "Utah Boozer"...otherwise it's time to make him "Benched Boozer" until you can turn that into "Amnestied Boozer". Look beneath the surface...there's really no other way to see it.
LETS GO CARLOS...LETS GO BULLS!
|Nick Young, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah at Wizards v/s Bulls 02/28/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|