DEERFIELD, ILL.Some might say Carlos Boozer picked up his game too late to be considered a legitimate All-Star candidate, but his coaches and teammates feel otherwise.
Boozer expressed his joy, via Twitter, in Joakim Noah and Luol Deng being named Eastern Conference All-Star reserves Thursday evening. But after Friday mornings shootaround at the Berto Center, Deng and Noah, as well as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, said that the power forward was also worthy of making the trip to Houston next month.
No question. I feel like I wouldnt be in this position right now if it wasnt for Carlos, especially," Noah said. "Hes somebody who demands so much attention because of how good he is offensively and Im able to get a lot of easy baskets because of Carlos, his passing ability. I feel like hes somebody whos very well-deserving and I feel like weve been through a lot in almost three years now together."
"You want to see all your teammates in the All-Star game," Deng added. "Thats how you feel. And I really mean this: I feel like Carlos Boozer and the way hes playing for us every night, rebounding, scoring his leadership, I really thought he was an All-Star this year. Even though he didnt get in, we know in this locker room he has stepped up his game huge.
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Thibodeau chimed in and added that he also felt Boozer was deserving of making the roster. The coach suggested that Boozer could make the game as an injury replacement, if that scenario came about.
As Ive said, these things are always tough because there is limited space and theres deserving players. Its a very difficult decision to make, Thibodeau said. I think Carlos has been unbelievable, so I think hes deserving and it would be a great honor.
Boozer was named last weeks Eastern Conference player of the week. Thibodeau equated Boozers situation with that of a player on the team the Bulls host Friday, Golden State point guard Stephen Curry, perceived as this years biggest snub.
One of the biggest perceived All-Star snubs was Golden State point guard Stephen Curry being left off the Western Conference reserves. Teammate David Lee did make the team for the much-improved Warriors, but the omission of Curry, a sharpshooting playmaker, was seen as glaring.
And Boozer is not the only one. I look at Golden State, and David Lee has had a terrific year, but Curry has been terrific as well, and hes very deserving, Thibodeau explained. To me, both of those guys are All-Star players, having All-Star type years, and theyre just not going to play in the game as of right now. That can always change.
Thibodeau impressed by Warriors, Jackson
Led by Curry and West All-Star reserve David Lee, the Warriors have been one of the leagues biggest surprises so far this season. Thibodeau was an assistant coach for the Knicks and Rockets when Golden States current head coach, Mark Jackson, played in New York and Houston toward the end of his long career.
Yeah I did. I had an opportunity to coach him, and a great leader, a great communicator, a lot of toughness, maybe not a great athlete he would probably argue that, but I loved coaching him, and hes a great person, Thibodeau said about the former NBA point guard, one of the leagues all-time assist leaders. Im thrilled for him, hes done a great job there.
Jackson and Thibodeau are both in their infancies in their head-coaching careers, but had vastly different paths, as Jackson, who worked as an NBA television analyst after his playing days, had never coached at any level before being hired by the Warriors. While Golden State struggled in his debut season a year ago, a defensive approach and improved health have made them one of the better teams in the Western Conference, even without the services of center Andrew Bogut.
Its a very deep team, very well put together," Thibodeau said. "I look at the players that they added from a year ago, and its impressive. You look at the impact that Jarrett Jack has had, and Carl Landry. Of course their young guys are guys that you really have to pay attention to, and theyre team guys. I think theyve made their team function extremely well, guys like Draymond Green, and Festus Ezeli, Harrison Barnes, and then all the players that are returning have improved. Curry is healthy, and they still dont have Bogut.
"David Lee has been terrific all year long. Klay Thompson, one of the best two guards in the league. They shoot the ball, they post the ball, they share the ball. They are playing terrific defense. They are very, very impressive."
Noah: A little weird to play with rivals
Joakim Noah, upon learning that he made the All-Star team Thursday evening, pondered playing with the likes of foes, such as Miamis LeBron James, Bostons Kevin Garnett and New Yorks Tyson Chandler, all of whom the Bulls center has had on-court confrontations with.
I thought about it a little bit last night. Its going to be a little weird. Youre competing against all these guys and you kind of see them as the enemy. Now, all of a sudden, youre going to be playing in a game with them, he said. Then, I realized we have a game today, so Im trying to just focus on the task at hand.
Ill probably have some good stories for you, he quipped. Ill be fine.