Author: Matt Carstensen
There’s a lot of misplaced anger these days by Bulls fans aimed at Carlos Boozer. To be completely honest, there is a lot of reasons to not be enthused with his play. His defense has been as poor as had been advertised, someways worse than we had imagined. Offensively he hasn’t performed up to expectations, especially after he had played so brilliantly upon his return from injury, and that’s where he is supposed to be the most effective.
Boozer was hugely ineffective against the Pacers in game one. He was 4-11 from the field with only 6 rebounds. That 4-11 also includes a horrible 1-5 from the paint. With the mismatches he faced down low, be it Tyler Hansborough who doesn’t have the size to match up, or Josh McRoberts, Boozer should’ve had a dominant performance in the paint. Why didn’t that work?
I think it’s important to take a look at what does work for the Bulls first of all. We need to look at 82games.com to get some advanced stats that start to point to the issue. They use a “Win %” statistic to show the most effective lineups. This takes scoring, defense, rebounding in to effect. For the Bulls, their top 5 lineups (with over 100 minutes of court time) are:
Rose-Brewer-Deng-Gibson-Thomas: 70.3% win
Rose-Brewer-Deng-Gibson-Asik: 68.5% win
As you can see, our starting lineup is also our 5th best lineup from a win percentage view. Our top 2 lineups are also 2 of our better defensive lineups, which creates the point differential. But offensively…well it’s better suited to the talents of Derrick Rose.
To take advantage of that, Rose needs a lane. That’s why you see the Bulls moving at a frantic pace offensively, they’re trying to create opportunities for driving lanes. The most effective lineups for the Bulls leave the paint pretty well open. The top line usually will feature Deng sitting outside, Brewer cutting back and forth, Kurt Thomas at the Elbow and Taj Gibson somewhere on the wing. That opens the middle for Rose. When they collapse on him, Rose has a few shooters on the floor to kick out too.
When Boozer is on the floor, he usually tries to occupy the post down by the block. When the offense isn’t moving quickly, they have time to try to post him. However the Bulls try to run a lot of high pick and roll’s to create an extra lane for him. That means Boozer is left trailing the play or wasting his post position. It also leaves him attempting to be a spot up shooter, and the numbers there aren’t good. From 10-15 feet out, Boozer is shooting 41.9%. Some of that is his shot, which is a falling backwards kind. That shot comes out of his lack of size in the post, and he needs that to generate spacing when he’s guarded by a bigger man.
And this is a product of the lack of floor time together with the overall starting lineup and with Boozer specifically. He missed most of training camp with the broken pinky, so Rose didn’t get to work with him. 9 games into his return, Joakim Noah went out. So all in all the Bulls have approximately 30 games with the full starting 5 intact. So it’s expected to be some growing pains with this.
The Bulls seem to like Noah out of the high post because of his above average passing and ball handling. He can take slower centers off the dribble a little bit. In the times where they do try to post up Boozer, the tend to have a shooter shadowing him so he can get out of a double team. However spacing here has been an issue because the shooter has been too tight on him, creating an almost instant double team. And when Boozer passes out of the double team, he’s rarely allowed a re-post.
What the Bulls need to do is spend some time working on a more conventional offense. They need to run some clear outs with Boozer, or get him the ball at the block and have a shooter at the arc away from the corner. Rose will need to stay at the top and Noah will have to be at the elbow. A double team here will come from the arc, allowing the Bulls player to swing towards the baseline and getting a good look. This will also allow him space for a move and counter move. If it’s not there, the Bulls can’t be so quick to jack up a 3 (which is a pet peave of mine, especially for you Mr. Rose) without waiting to see if Boozer can get a deeper re-post.
This should also assist him defensively as he’ll get to bang his body against these faster players more consistently, wearing them out. His advantage down low is his size and overall ability to get deep post space. And until we take advantage of that, he’ll continue to face the fury.
Is this a quick fix? Probably not. This is probably something that we’ll see much more of next year as it can only really come with time.