It wasn’t too long ago when Carlos Boozer was a candidate to be amnestied by the Chicago Bulls. Understandably so, as his numbers last season (15 PPG, 8.5 RPG) didn’t justify the money he was owed. Plus, he showed the typical signs of a declining veteran. So, the Bulls could have saved a roster spot and brought in someone else by waving good bye to Boozer and his slowed skill set. There wasn’t much more to it.
However, the Bulls’ decision to hang onto Boozer has augmented their chances of contending for a title. Boozer is averaging 22.8 points and 8.7 rebounds over his last 10 games, while the Bulls are 7-3 over that stretch.
Now, it’s safe to say that Rose’s return will only benefit Boozer.
First and foremost, Rose’s return isn’t what you would call imminent. He shot jumpers before the Bulls battled the Celtics in Boston on Friday, and may be able to practice with contact in the coming weeks. With all of this said, there’s no specific return date. Until then, though, Bulls’ fans can only dream.
Perhaps you realized that Boozer and Rose don’t exactly form the deadliest tandem, nor have they worked coherently in the past. Last season, for example, Boozer averaged two more points per-36 minutes when Rose was on the bench, while Rose averaged over four more without Boozer clogging the lane. It’s not a Chris Paul-Blake Griffin-esque duo, to be sure.
But, Rose may have to defer to Boozer more often when he returns.
Very few players have ever recovered fully from a torn ACL. Rose’s aggressive, non-stop penetration may have to be modified if his career-changing injury hinders him significantly. This is where Boozer may or may not benefit.
See, when Rose gets into the lane, there’s a good chance that he’s going to finish the play off himself. This is due to his overall athleticism and craftiness in the paint. Below, you will find his shot distribution shot from last season.
Obviously, most of his work occurs close to the rim. His improved jump shot, which came into full effect last season, has conceivably opened up more seams for Rose to infiltrate, therefore explaining his inflated number of shots in the painted area. But, if he isn’t able to restore those attributes, then the foreseeable route is for him to dump the ball off to his shooters–enter Boozer.
Boozer has also been forced to limit his aggressiveness over the past couple years. Like most veterans who have logged 11 seasons in the league, he’s beginning to decline. His latest stretch of basketball would void that statement, though. In the broader picture, however, he’s only a fraction of what he used to be. Despite this, it only means that he will have to combat his loss of athleticism with a more consistent outside jumper. Thus far this season, he’s done just that.
Boozer is shooting 42.2 percent on shots in the 10 to 14 feet range (45.2 percent since the new year). If more of these mid-range jumpers were assisted, he would likely see the ball go through the net even more given the more untroubled attempts.
How will Boozer’s efficiency from the mid-range benefit Rose, specifically?
It’s quite simple. When defenders realize that Boozer will consistently knock down the mid-range shot, Rose will have a less compacted middle of the key to work with. Instead of having to squeeze around clusters of defenders, which he may be limited to do in the first place, the room for him to finish layups will be uncrowded. And of course, if Boozer’s defender chooses not to cover him, then we’re back to square one with Rose dishing the ball off.
The key in this scheme, however, will be Boozer’s mid-range shot. All signs point towards Boozer having no problems. His field goal percentage from 10 to 14 feet suggests that he’s actually improving. Still, there hasn’t been much of a sample size, as the bulk of his work has come in the interior.
If Boozer’s jumper doesn’t slack off when he gets more attempts, then Rose’s return and Boozer’s sudden transformation will exist soundly.
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