Bulls

20 in 20: Boozer the right fit for Chicago

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20 in 20: Boozer the right fit for Chicago

Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010
10:36 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

A historic summer for the NBA has passed and for the Bulls, while they didn't acquire quite the star power many expected andor hoped for, optimism runs high, both within the organization and throughout the team's fan base. With the offseason coming to an end, the time to fully delve into the upcoming NBA season is here. Instead of a traditional season preview, issues both throughout the league and in Chicago will be probed daily here on CSNChicago.com up until the squad officially convenes for training camp toward the end of September.

9. What type of impact will Carlos Boozer make and is he worth his contract or just a free agency consolation prize?

Boozer didn't have the highest profile of the available free agents this summer. The Alaska native wasn't the flashiest player, nor he did he possess the gaudiest numbers. But even though it will take time to fully evaluate how things will play out this upcoming season, Boozer might ultimately be the best fit for the Bulls.

Think about it. At 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, the Duke product's blend of brawn, bruising nature, low-post scoring ability and underrated offensive versatility gives Chicago since ... well, here's a hint: this writer -- along with everybody on the current roster, with the exception of Kurt Thomas (this was the pre-Jordan era) -- wasn't born at the time.

Stumped? The likes of Boozer's talent in the post haven't been seen in the Windy City since the days of Artis Gilmore. How about dominant power forwards? The Bull at his position with Boozer's credentials to truly garner league-wide respect -- albeit one with a much different style -- was Dennis Rodman. For a less extreme example, try Horace Grant.

But enough rehashing of the past. A career 17.2-point scorer and 10.2 rebounder on average through his first eight professional seasons, if anything, "Booze" is a model of consistency. Only 28, he brings a veteran presence and significant playoff experience (an added bonus: Jerry Sloan, the hard-nosed former Bulls star, coached him over the past six seasons in Utah, ensuring he'll compete) to a relatively young team.

Boozer, a two-time All-Star, has a reputation for not being durable, but that's partly mitigated by the presence of Taj Gibson, last year's starting power forward, who is coming off a first team NBA all-rookie campaign. While Boozer is the clear starter at the four for Chicago, his reputation for not being the staunchest defender will be challenged by both the blue-collar Gibson and new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a known defensive strategist.

Boozer will be expected to defend and buy in to the team philosophy -- again, after playing for Sloan, a noted taskmaster, that shouldn't be an issue -- but he was acquired to fill a gaping hole on offense. The tandem of Gibson and Joakim Noah performed capably last season, but neither player brings the scoring talents Boozer has to the table. In fact, Noah, in particular should team especially well with Boozer. They should make up for each others deficiencies (Noah's still raw post-up game, lack of strength and limited range; Boozer's so-so athleticism and aforementioned lack of defensive prowess) with their respective strengths.

That's probably the biggest positive. Not to say Bulls general manager Gar Forman was only paying lip service when he remarked that Chicago's braintrust rated Boozer their top-ranked available power forward, but that line of thinking was likely influenced more by how they envisioned him complementing their nucleus, specifically Noah and All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.

Boozer has already played with a great floor general in Deron Williams, and while Rose hasn't quite ascended to the Utah playmaker's level just yet, he's not far from it. Williams has a different style than Rose, so it will be an adjustment process, but that's where Boozer's experience and willingness to play second banana on occasion come in. Boozer chose Chicago for the opportunity to win -- he's confident enough to believe the lofty goal of winning a title immediately is feasible -- not the fanfare that he's smart enough to realize won't come as readily with hometown product Rose and fan favorite Noah getting better every day. That willingness to sacrifice alone (despite not necessarily being his new team's first choice in the summer, he reportedly wasn't even tempted by the chance to be the man for the likes of the Nets) is admirable, and the fact that former teammates Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver followed him to the Bulls speaks volumes.

In this day and age, however, fans are too quick to wonder what could have been. While the sting of the triple rejection of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh seems to have disappeared within the Bulls' fan base, it's not hard to predict that as soon as the team undergoes a single misstep, is perceived to underachieve or even fails to jell quickly enough, at least some of the Chicago faithful will lament the franchise not adding the services of even one member of the trio.

When it comes to James or Wade, a Chicagoan, it's hard to argue the downside of not locking up either of the proven superstars -- although one has to consider the potential challenge of how to effectively blend their respective ball-dominant games with Rose's own. But anybody who watched the Bulls on a regular basis last season recognizes that a post-up scorer and outside shooting were bigger needs than adding another dynamic slasher to mirror Rose.

Bosh, on the other hand, was widely considered the top power forward on the market. For those who closely studied the strong second half to last season enjoyed by Amar'e Stoudemire could make a case for him, too. And while Bosh's game might be prettier and Stoudemire's game might be more exciting (like Boozer, neither is regarded as a good defender; both players are younger than Boozer), Boozer's ability to mix it up in the paint fits the already blue-collar Bulls better. Not to mention, Boozer's acquisition was a bit less expensive than most observers project it would have cost to sign the others.

In the midst of his prime, with a game that appears cohesive with the rest of the squad and gives the Bulls' young stars room to grow (forming a pretty formidable triumvirate; Luol Deng makes them a very strong quartet), the ability to fill a major team need, a history of deftly shifting between being a lead guy and a supporting piece, having significant postseason battles under his belt and enough character that the oft-taciturn Sloan spoke up for him (despite Boozer's issues with the Utah front office), in short, Boozer seems like the right guy for both the Bulls and Chicago.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Lauri Markkanen celebrates 21st birthday with a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie First Team

Lauri Markkanen celebrates 21st birthday with a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie First Team

Lauri Markkanen’s celebration for his 21st birthday coincided with another major honor, being selected to the All-Rookie First team.

Markkanen received 76 of 100 possible first-team votes to join Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma on the first team. Mitchell and Simmons were unanimous selections and Tatum was one vote short of joining Mitchell and Simmons.

Markkanen, acquired on draft night in the package of players for Jimmy Butler, showed he was far more advanced than many expected. His 15.2 points per game ranked third among rookies and his 7.5 rebounds were first.

Markkanen was a constant in a topsy-turvy season for the Bulls, scoring 30-plus twice and hitting the 25-point plateau another three times. As a perfect fit in Fred Hoiberg’s offensive system, Markkanen had eight games where he hit four triples or more, including a game in New York where he drilled eight 3-pointers against the Knicks.

Only 15 rookies have hit more than 140 triples in NBA history, with Markkanen accomplishing the feat in 68 games—he was joined by Mitchell and Kuzma from this year’s star-studded class.

As the season progressed and Markkanen took hold of the power forward position, the Bulls began maneuvering personnel around him, trading disgruntled forward Nikola Mirotic and making a concerted effort to put Bobby Portis at center to pair Portis with Markkanen as a spread-shooting duo.

As the most impressive rookie the Bulls have employed since Derrick Rose, he’s also the first rookie since Taj Gibson in 2010 to make All-Rookie First Team.

ESPN ranks Derrick Rose No. 36 in its World Fame 100 list

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AP

ESPN ranks Derrick Rose No. 36 in its World Fame 100 list

Yes, Derrick Rose Stans. Your boy still has plenty of relevance in the sports world.

ESPN released its third annual ranking of "the biggest names in sports," and the Timberwolves point guard ranked No. 36 on the list. ESPN formed the list based on a formula that took three factors into account:

1. Search score, "which measures how often a name is searched"

2. Endorsement dollars, with sources using ranging from Forbes to ESPN contributors

3. Social media followers, with ESPN taking only the platform in which the player had his or her most followers into account.

Rose's search score wasn't all that impressive, ranking 15 - the average on the top 100 list had a score of 35. But with Bulls fans, NBA fans and now of course Timberwolves fans chiming in on his game, Rose's name came across plenty of timelines and search engines.

Rose's $14 million in endorsements - primarily from that massive Adidas deal - was better than the average $12.6 million of the top 100 athletes.

Rose's top social media page is on Facebook, where he currently has more than 10.7 million likes. This, as ESPN notes, is largely due to the international following Rose and so many other NBA athletes have built up over the years.

In 2016, Rose ranked No. 30 on the list. In 2017 he was No. 33 on the list, so while he isn't trending in the right direction there's no denying his presence in the sports landscape. Love him or hate him, Derrick Rose still matters.

The only NBA players above Rose on the list were LeBron James (No. 2), Kevin Durant (No. 7), Stephen Curry (No. 9), James Harden (No. 24), Kyrie Irving (No. 27), Dwyane Wade (No. 31) and Russell Westbrook (No. 34). NBA players below Rose included Carmelo Anthony, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Isaiah Thomas, and Cameron Payne.

OK, not Cameron Payne. He must have been No. 101.