December 03, 2010
I don't particularly agree with the headline, because Carlos Boozer(notes) is not a loser for returning to the Chicago Bulls possibly earlier than he should have, but BBallBreakdown's sentiment is spot on.
Boozer, who missed two months (including training camp, exhibition games, and the first 15 games of the season) with a broken right hand, clearly needed more practice time with his new team before debuting (as a starter, no less) in Chicago's blowout loss to the Magic on Wednesday night.
It was clear from the outset. Great intentions, all around, but Boozer was out of position offensively in that defeat, and alternately overanxious and a step slow defensively. Even without that knowledge, for Carlos to come back against a Magic team that essentially starts a 3-point shooting small forward in Rashard Lewis(notes) at Boozer's position? The move was destined to fail.
For those that missed the game, this video is a must-watch. For those that saw the game, this video is a must-watch. It breaks down just how clueless the Bulls appeared in Boozer's first time out, and emphasizes the thing that struck me the most -- Carlos' presence forced players into spots that they hadn't been in, offensively and defensively, all season. Just look at Joakim Noah(notes) on the baseline two minutes into this clip, have you seen him there before in 2010-11?
The age, despite all the things you might read in a typical comments section, is getting more and more enlightened. It's a good thing for players to hit the D-League, as they work their way back from injury. It's a great thing that 1970s-era rules about shootarounds and protocol are being phased out. People are thinking on their feet, in this league and in this game, in ways we haven't seen before.
And while Carlos Boozer is to be commended for putting himself up for ridicule and dashing to the front of the line in his first game back from injury, and his first game with his new team, it probably wasn't the smartest move. In a vacuum, it probably wasn't the smartest move. Against the best team in the East, with a small forward lining up at Boozer's position? It was definitely a move inadvertently designed to fail.
Here's where this post is designed to fail, though. The Bulls employ a head coach in Tom Thibodeau that is renowned for his obsession with tape-watching; and not in a Bob Crane sort of way. Perhaps Thibs needs that sort of game tape, actual on record movement against an NBA team, to prepare his squad for what comes next. And it's possible that no amount of practice will have the same effect as a 30-minute stint on camera with Boozer on the floor.
This might be cold comfort to a Bulls team that will no doubt be fighting for needed wins to establish playoff seeding this spring, but the appalling optimist in me keeps yelling about how Thibs might be taking a game that would have likely been a loss anyway (Orlando owns the Bulls, and it was Chicago's first home game back after a long road trip; something that historically results in a loss in this league), and using it as a teaching tool. The where to go, the what to do. All that coaching stuff, that Chicago never seemed to get with Vinny Del Negro running things.
Or, Chicago could get blown out by 30 in Boston on Friday night, and I could chalk that up to another life's lessons learned. Such is fandom.