Tag Archives: Carlos Boozer

I saw some poll, I believe on ESPN.com, the other day, asking people whether the MVP Award, if the rules were changed to have it account for playoff performance, should remain with Derrick Rose, or go to LeBron James.  A significant number of people, well above 50%, said it should go to LeBron James.

I guess none of those people watched the series between the Heat and the Bulls.

To anyone who watched, it’s perfectly clear that Derrick Rose must carry a substantially larger burden than LeBron James simply to keep his team competitive.  Rose doesn’t have anyone to give the ball to who can generate any offense on his own.  The Bulls’ only offense is this:

1.  Rose must do the best he can to make something happen, whether that be a shot for himself, or drawing the defense and passing to someone else for an open shot,

2.  Guys must make open shots when they get them, and

3.  At the very least, guys must make sure their shots hit the rim, because the Bulls have some good offensive rebounders.

Let there be no doubt: if the Bulls played without Rose and the Heat played without LeBron, it would be a bloodbath. A complete thrashing.  The Heat would have the two best players on the court.  (By the way, if I ever said that Carlos Boozer was better than Chris Bosh, I hereby officially admit that I was wrong – unless I happen to have said that Boozer is better at failing to finish near the rim than Chris Bosh is.)

So, when the Heat finished off the Bulls – and trust me, I’m well aware that LeBron was fantastic during the series – it didn’t establish that LeBron is more valuable than Rose; the only way the Bulls had a chance in the series was if Rose significantly outplayed LeBron.  The same is true of the other superstars in the league.

Some numbers:

Dwight Howard led the Magic in scoring this year, with 22.9 ppg.  The next leading scorer, Vince Carter, scored 7.8 fewer ppg (not to mention that he got traded mid-season).

Rose led the Bulls in scoring this year, with 25 ppg.  The next leading scorer, Carlos Boozer, scored 7.5 fewer ppg.

Dirk led the Mavs in scoring this year, with 23 ppg.  The next leading scorer, Jason Terry, scored 7.2 fewer ppg.

Kobe led the Lakers in scoring this year, with 25.3 ppg.  The next leading scorer, Pau Gasol, scored 6.5 fewer ppg.

7.8, 7.5, 7.2, and 6.5.  In stark contrast, the difference between LeBron’s production and the production of the next-leading-scorer on his team was 1.2 ppg.

To be clear, I’m not saying LeBron is less capable than any of these players.  In fact, I explicitly acknowledge that he has at least as much talent and skill as any of them.  He has stretches on offense when he looks unguardable, and his versatility on defense is remarkable.

I’m saying that LeBron doesn’t deserve the same amount of credit as Rose because he has to do a fraction of what Rose has to do — or, for that matter, what all of the other superstars in the league have to do — to keep his team competitive.

He used to carry a much higher burden than he does now, but he decided it was too much for him.  He chose to leave for a team where his burden would be much lower.

Remarkably, there are still many people who rush to give him credit, as if there’s nothing cowardly about his decision.

Rant forthcoming.

1 Comment:

  • Jones

    That is definitely the most credit you’ve given LeBron that I’ve read. Almost, for a second, sounded as if you liked him- but then I kept reading. Although I always enjoy your posts, Im going to disagree with something you wrote (surprise)- I do not think Lebrons decision to go to Miami was cowardly- at all. He did what anyone would do to get ahead in his job, further his career and achieve the ultimate goal. He has taken ridiculous amounts of abuse from every city around and has held his head high through it all. He is a leader and has not tried to steal the spotlight at all. He has his eyes on the prize as does the rest of the Miami Heat players. If he was wearing a USA jersey for the Olympics the country would be cheering for him. My opinion, nothing cowardly about this man. Nothing.

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I wrote in the beginning of the season that one of the main storylines to keep an eye on is the evolution of the center position. (Here, in case you missed it the first time.)

Well, we’re almost halfway through the season, and, crunching the data regarding the center position specifically, the first conclusion to draw is that, well… um… there really isn’t much to base a conclusion on. That’s because so many of the centers have been hurt for significant chunks of time. If you play center in the NBA, chances are high that you’re having trouble walking these days. Apparently, having a “C” next to your name on an NBA roster means that you’re likely to be Crippled, or even that you might be Cursed.

Check it out: Yao is out for the season, and might be done forever. Oden, too. Bynum can never seem to give the Lakers a long stretch of healthy productivity. Kaman can’t get back on the court for the Clippers. Okur has hardly been available for the Jazz. The Suns might be a playoff team if Robin Lopez could return to the form he was in for parts of last year’s playoffs. And the Bulls could potentially be lethal — if they could keep their center, Joakim Noah, healthy.

Looking at all these injuries, I postulate that human bodies approaching or exceeding 7 feet in length are just not meant to run up and down a basketball court at the speed of today’s game. Actually, strike that. I don’t “postulate” anything — I’m trying to build up my street cred, and people with street cred don’t “postulate” things. Please let me try again… Looking at all these injuries, I hoopserve that human bodies approaching or exceeding 7 feet in length are just not meant to run up and down a basketball court at the speed of today’s game.

Nice. Now I got my street cred intact.

With my street cred intact, I’m ready for a few other hoopservations about the current state of the center position:
1a. If a team has a 7 foot body it can roll out onto the court, who can both walk straight and catch a basketball, that team is in good shape. Bonus points if the guy was born in the 1970’s, and was a force 5 or more years ago. He doesn’t have to be able to move fast or jump high. So long as he’s 7 feet tall and in one piece, you can fake your way through having a real center. Just roll him out there and hope nobody notices. It’s basically like Weekend at Bernie’s, if Bernie was 7 feet tall and used to be a good basketball player. Evidence in support of my point: Big Z in Miami. Duncan in San Antonio. And, of course, Shaq.
1b. If a team has a center who can stay relatively healthy, and produces about 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks, it has a distinct advantage over other teams. In fact, if a team has such a guy, that team is almost certainly a playoff team. Evidence in support of my point: Roy Hibbert (13.5 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Andrew Bogut (13.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg), and Emeka Okafor (10.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg).

2. It’s possible to win the battle of the paint armed only with a capable power forward. The numbers that some power forwards are putting up are just silly. They’re like video game numbers. I’m talking about Amar’e (26.4 ppg, 9 rpg, 2.3 bpg), Blake Griffin (21.7 ppg and 12.5 rpg), and Kevin Love (20.6 ppg and 15.6 rpg).

Where does this leave us? I think it’s wrong to say that a good power forward without a capable center alongside him is good enough to win with — in fact, it’s interesting that Blake and Love, with numbers like those, aren’t leading their teams to more victories. One possible explanation is that those guys don’t block shots (not the most meaningful stat in the world, but a good indicator of defensive presence in the paint) nearly as often as real centers do.  In contrast, Amar’e is blocking more than 2 shots per game.

Looking ahead, I’m psyched to see what the Bulls do when Noah and Boozer get to play together for a while, what the Lakers do when Bynum and Gasol develop a rhythm, whether the Mavs are able to get over the hump now that they have Chandler playing next to Nowitzki, and what the Hornets are able to do with West and Okafor. (And, as I’ve stated repeatedly, what the Clippers will do once Kaman and Griffin are playing together.)

In closing, let’s revisit the discussion about the Knicks trading for Carmelo, in light of this information. If they keep Felton and Stoudemire, then, with Carmelo and any mediocre perimeter shooter (Gallinari, Chandler, Fields, and Toney Douglas all fit the bill), they would be good enough on offense to play 4-on-5. That would enable them to play Turiaf (an offensive liability who is a presence on D) at center alongside Amar’e, giving them a distinct advantage over most teams in the league.


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