What DID you expect from Carlos Boozer?

The numbers are down for Carlos Boozer. This you already know.

The per game numbers are down, as Sam Smith wrote in a post called "What should you expect from Carlos Boozer", but so are the percentages and inside-to-outside shot attempt ratio. I can buy Smith's call to not fixate on Boozer not being a "20-10" guy because:

Only twice in eight seasons before the Bulls signed Boozer did he average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in a season.

[...]

In both those 20/10 seasons, Boozer averaged about 35 minutes per game, far more than he plays with the Bulls. He also averaged 16 shots per game those seasons with the Jazz, almost 25 percent more shots per game than Boozer attempts with the Bulls now.

The mistake everyone makes with Boozer is the same mistake you see often in sports, and not only with fans but team managements.

They sign or trade for a player and want him to be what they need or what they want him to be rather than who he is.

Those two 20-10 seasons where Boozer played a career high in minutes for any other two-season span where back when he was 25 and 26-years-old; he just turned 30 last November. Smith implied that Boozer's offensive production is proportional to his career averages per 36 minutes and -- though the numbers are slightly down -- he's about right:

Season Age Tm G FGA FG% FTA FT% ORB TRB AST PTS
2009-10 28 UTA 78 14.8 .562 5.2 .742 2.4 11.8 3.3 20.5
2010-11 29 CHI 59 16.2 .510 4.7 .701 2.5 10.8 2.8 19.8
2011-12 30 CHI 16 15.5 .525 2.6 .697 2.1 10.0 1.7 18.0
Career 585 14.6 .537 4.6 .725 2.9 11.1 2.7 19.0
Generated 1/19/2012.

Smith's points that what fans, observers, and analysts did expect from a 29- and 30-year-old Boozer is greater than that of the production from his younger days with the Jazz. But no one with eyes, half-a-brain, or access to Hoopdata.com can say it's irrational to expect a big money power forward who took 63.8% of his shots within ten feet of the basket in Utah in 2010 and 62.2% in his first season as a Bull to select his shots better than taking only 42.4% of his shots within that close range through 16 games of this 2012 season.

Smith quotes Boozer as saying that Joakim Noah being closer to a 'true center' than his former Jazz teammate Mehmet Okur, changing the ways he finds space off the ball:

"The middle was open for me and D Will to do our thing. It's different playing with an actual center in the middle.

"You've got to pop, either roll into traffic or pop," said Boozer. "I like it. We have space to move because I can shoot the ball and we have guys who can shoot the ball. It also gives other guys lanes. Look at Derrick. I'm poppin' (so) he has space on my side to drive to the hoop. Luol the same thing. That's why our jump shooting becomes so important. And we're winning.

[...]

"Our team [is] made up differently. [...] It's going to vary because we're a more talented team. This is one of the most talented teams I've been on aside from All Stars and Olympics. I don't have to carry the load. Derrick is shooting less (down about three per game). Our team is better. It's more a collective group."

There are points from Boozer worth keeping in mind as the season develops. And points on how Noah and Rose use space are incredibly valid.

But they don't excuse the fact that Boozer is one of the best in the game at establishing position in the low post without the ball and has the physique, moves, and passing skills to dominate down low more often than many in the NBA -- and he isn't utilizing that strength. Far too often, that positioning is recognized. Instead of backing his man down to get a higher-percentage shot or draw help to create an open man on the perimeter; he gives his defenders a pass by not charging closer to the basket, but taking fadeaway jumpers.

This is what was not expected of Carlos Boozer.

He's currently shooting 62.3% on 5.3 shots within ten feet and 45.2% on 7.3 shots at ten-plus feet per game this season. Adjusting his 2012 location-based FG% to the 2010 rate of shot selection within ten feet to eight per game and 4.5 from beyond, his FG% goes from his current .510 up to .560 -- almost exactly where that also was in 2010 (.562).

And he says the 'jump shooting is so important'. Au contraire, mon frère.

He doesn't jump as well as he did in Utah and his limitations are much more pronounced from playing through a turf toe injury last season. But he still has moves to create easy buckets and establish position, as proven by his 24.6% defensive rebounding rate -- his lowest since 2005, but still an indicator of using horizontal space well to win vertical portions of the game.

Boozer shouldn't be expected to be a 20-10 guy because of what his career tells us. But he should be expected to make higher percentage decisions because of -- well -- what his career tells us.

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