The Bulls offense has lacked flare through six games, averaging 92.3 points per game on 43 percent shooting, statistics which rank 28th and 23rd, respectively, in the NBA. They have only topped 100 points once, and it occurred in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Last year the Bulls topped the century mark 20 times, going 18-2 in those games. Those statistics aside, the offensive struggles have been the result of individual struggles, but Carlos Boozer has not been one of the reasons why.
We wrote earlier on the newest wave of statistics taking over the NBA called SportVU, an advanced tracking system that uses six cameras to record all movements by every player on the court at any given time, down to when they run, jog, dribble, pass or shoot -- fun fact: Chandler Parsons has run 25.7 miles in six games, and Corey Brewer is moving at an average of 4.9 mph, both top marks through the NBA's first three weeks.
And one advanced statistic where Boozer is thriving is on "close shots," defined by SportVU as shot attempts that begin with a touch that starts within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives. And in this category, Boozer leads the NBA with 6.3 "close-shot points" per game, shooting an impressive 68.2 percent from the field on such attempts.
It's unclear what kind of close shots Boozer is taking, as they could be anything from an alley-oop dunk, a turnaround jumper from 12 feet, a lay-up from a post touch or a cut to the basket. But the fact remains that Boozer has been stellar around the basket, as he's ahead of some pretty impressive company, too.
Here are the top-10 leaders in close-shot points per game, along with their respective field-goal percentages from that area.
|Rk||Player||CS pts/game||CS FG%|
|1.||Carlos Boozer (CHI)||6.3||68.2%|
|2.||Nikola Pekovic (MIN)||6.2||54.8%|
|3.||Al Jefferson (CHA)||6.0||58.3%|
|4.||Dwight Howard (HOU)||5.9||66.7%|
|5.||Enes Kanter (UTAH)||5.8||60.5%|
|6.||Brook Lopez (BRK)||5.7||60.9%|
|7.||Blake Griffin (LAC)||5.7||75.0%|
|8.||Al Horford (ATL)||5.5||67.9%|
|9.||Kevin Love (MIN)||5.2||53.8%|
|10.||DeMarcus Cousins (SAC)||5.1||52.4%|
Only the Clippers' Blake Griffin, who is fourth in the NBA with 17 dunks, has a higher field-goal percentage than Boozer. Boozer is sixth on this list in total points per game, though it's worth noting that Boozer's 18.0 points per game are his most in a Bulls uniform and he's seventh on this list in field-goal attempts per game. Put another way, Boozer has been efficient with his shot attempts and, as the above shows, impressive inside.
In a year where Derrick Rose has struggled and Joakim Noah is averaging just 7.7 points per game, Boozer's inside prowess has been a stopgap in the Bulls' offensive struggles. His stiffest test of the year will come Saturday when he squares off against David West, Roy Hibbert and the Pacers' frontcourt. Opponents have made just 47.3 percent of their shots at the basket (the best mark in the NBA) and 26.5 percent of shots from 5-to-9 feet, the second-best mark.