Heading into the 2012-13 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls will have the odds stacked against them with former MVP Derrick Rose out until February or March. The Bulls will need to find a new go-to scorer, and adapt to a new style of play without their floor general on the court. As much as this might make Chicagoans cringe, the play of forward Carlos Boozer could be a key factor in the success of the team in the coming season.
Boozer has fallen out of favor in Chicago due to his lackluster playoff performances and exorbitant contract, the latter inflating his value from the start of the 2010-11 season. After the disappointment of striking out on big free agents like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Boozer was a consolation prize, yet still got paid like a top-tier superstar.
After only appearing in 53 games in his inaugural regular season in Chicago, Boozer struggled mightily in the playoffs, averaging just 12.5 points while shooting a dismal 43.3 percent from the field. Bulls fans had deja vu in the playoffs the following year, with the max-contract forward averaging 13.5 points on only 42.2 percent shooting.
While age and role has likely contributed to the dip in production in Chicago, Boozer will be called on to pour on the scoring with Rose out for the majority of the season. With Kirk Hinrich taking over at point guard, Boozer should get more shots each game. With backup center Omer Asik heading to the Houston Rockets, Boozer should also see a slight uptick in minutes without the luxury of a quality big behind both he and Joakim Noah.
With no real volume scorer in the starting lineup, Chicago should try to run the offense through Boozer like the Utah Jazz did back in his prime years. Boozer is a quality passer for a big man, and getting the ball into him could help the offense flow. If Boozer’s statistics do climb during the first half of the season, the Bulls may be able to move him, avoiding the amnesty option. With a cheap organization like Chicago, avoiding paying a player not to play may be a move they are looking to make.
As much as it pains me to say it, running the offense through Carlos Boozer in the 2012-13 season may prove beneficial to the Bulls with their superstar recovering. It could be a long season, Bulls fans.
Zach Mink covers the Chicago Bulls for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zachmink12 for more news and analysis.