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Rethinking Carlos Boozer

Fans Need to Alter Their Expectations of Bulls Forward

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | On Saturday, Nov. 24, Carlos Boozer scored 22 points and pulled down 19 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a significant 93-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. It ended the first three-game losing streak in the Tom Thibodeau era for the Bulls.

When Boozer has games like that, his fans point to it and say "See, that's what Carlos Boozer can do." His detractors say "But he doesn't do it all the time, or even often enough."

Here is the truth about Carlos Boozer: He plays like a superstar very occasionally, he contributes most games, and he fails to meet expectations often enough to be a sore point for Bulls fans.

Boozer suffered from the timing of his acquisition by the Bulls. He came to them in the summer of 2010, when the Miami Heat made their major acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The Bulls wanted to be in that sweepstakes, but finished far out of the running. They had set themselves up with a lot of salary cap space, and they had to spend it on someone. Boozer was the next best option.

So he joined the Bulls with the hype of a second-tier star, but he wasn't really up to that title. Bosh, perhaps, was a second tier star, behind James and Dwyane Wade that summer. Boozer was the third tier guy, but he had to live up to the reputation of being the Bulls' major acquisition, and that status was beyond his skills as a player.

Offensively, Boozer is not an interior scorer, at least not as much as he is a jump shooter. He can make occasional strong moves to the hoop, but he rarely finishes with a strong power move. He prefers a feather's touch of the ball to the rim and backboard.

Defensively, forget about it. He often guards larger players, but he is not fast enough to make up the difference with speed, and he is just not fundamentally sound as a defensive player.

This season, Boozer is averaging 14 points and almost 10 rebounds per game. He's leading the team in boards and second on the team in scoring. WIthout Derrick Rose in the lineup, he is helping them stay in most games offensively. Occasionally, like on Saturday, he leads the team to victory.

But he is not a "lead the team to victory'' kind of player on a regular basis. He's more of a "help the team win'' kind of guy. Bulls fans need to appreciate him when he does just that - help the team win, rather than hate on him because he does not lead the team to victory.

Bulls fans would be a lot happier if they adjusted their thinking about Boozer, starting now.

Kent McDill has covered the Bulls for three different companies: for United Press International from 1985-88, for the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., from 1988-99 and currently for NBA.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title "100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die'' published by Triumph Books.

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