Maybe 2013 is Carlos Boozers year.
In the Bulls last three games, all wins, the much-maligned power forward has had outings of 31 points and 11 rebounds, 27 points and 12 rebounds, and 24 points and 11 rebounds. In fact, Boozer has notched double-doubles in his last five contests.
As perhaps the most-criticized player on the Bulls, Boozer is often the target of fans scorn. After signing a five-year, approximately 80-million contract in the summer of 2010, observers expected him to be a dominant, 20-and-10 force on a nightly basis and while that hasnt happened, its easy to overlook the fact that although hes not putting up the same numbers as when he was a two-time Western Conference All-Star in Utah, hes still one of the best players at his position in the league.
Its not like he hasnt done this before. Hes done this throughout his career. Hes played very well for us and I dont think hes gotten the credit that he deserves, but you look at him and at the end of every season, how he measures up to other power forwards, hes always at the top, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. Hes gotten more opportunities right now because people are searching him out and thats what the defense is telling us is open. I think guys have gotten comfortable, the core guys who have been together now for three years, so they know how to play off of each other better and I think Carlos has done a great job for us. Hes unselfish, too. When the second defender comes, hes going to make the right play.
When Boozers statistics are taken in contexthe plays roughly 30 minutes per game; he has a high-level backup in Taj Gibsonthe case can be made that hes delivered up to expectations. And with Bulls center Joakim Noah in the midst of a career season, it can no longer be said that the low-post duo doesnt function well together, an assertion their coach always found humorous.
Ive been laughing all along because Ive been looking at the winning percentage when the two of them have played together. To me, thats how you measure guys. Sometimes I think people get so hung up on individual statistics that they dont look at what the end result is and the end result has been very, very positive from Day 1 and so, that hasnt changed. My thinking on those two hasnt changed one bit, Thibodeau said. Boozer has been a lightning rod from Day 1. But he can handle it. When youre that type of player, usually thats what comes with it. But he handles that part great. No matter what happens the night before, he comes in that next day, hes ready to work and thats all you can ask. Come in, put everything you have into it, get ready for the next game, and keep learning and improving.
Noah added: Its always great to silence your critics, but obviously theres a bigger picture. Its not about just silencing critics who said we couldnt play together. Obviously he wants to win, I want to win. Being in this league, you usually answer those questions at the end of the year. Its not because we played well against Cleveland, because we won a game against Miami during the regular season that were going to silence those critics. Its more about whats going to happen at the end of the year.
I think hes playing his best basketball. He looks very comfortable out there. We kind of understand where he wants the ball, he continued. I think that were playing very unselfish basketball right now. Whoevers open getting the ball. I think thats signs of good things for this team. Ball movement, when somebodys open, get them the ball and Booz is just killing in the paint right now, so were just getting him as many touches as possible.
For the time being, it appears that Boozer is making good on his New Years resolutions to be more efficient and get more wins. If he continues to play the game the way he has as of late, the occasional boos he hears from the United Center crowd will permanently turn to Booz.
Maybe 2013 is Carlos Boozers year.