While Taj Gibson has struggled offensively this season, the Bulls have been much more effective with him on the floor as opposed to Carlos Boozer.
So the esteemed Doug Thonus over at Bulls Confidential dove into the Carlos Boozer Amnesty Debate this morning, arguing that the Bulls simply can't afford to ax the embattled big man next season because of how much salary is already allocated to the roster. It's a somewhat legitimate argument, because there's a decent chance that if you amnesty Boozer and replace him with a MLE/MMLE/minimum type, the team won't be any better off.
I don't want to dive too much into the amnesty thing right now, but rather, I want to focus on the bit where Doug says that Boozer has been better than Taj Gibson this season. On the surface, it's a perfectly reasonable statement. Boozer, while he has struggled offensively at times, is still a better offensive player than Gibson at this stage. Boozer has also been excellent on the backboards this season. Check out the per/36 comparison from Basketball-Reference.com:
But as it often is, basic statistics simply don't tell the tale for how effective each of these players have been for the Bulls. I decided to snoop around NBA.com's stats database, and found some pretty telling numbers. First, here's the on/off court numbers for Boozer this season:
With Boozer on the court, the Bulls' defense has been pretty terrible, sporting a 102.0 defensive rating. And offensively, they have actually been worse with him on the floor as opposed to off it, which is a somewhat surprising development. In all, Boozer has a net rating of -2.7, which flat out sucks for a team that has performed decently well this season.
Much like last season, the Bulls have been a defensive dynamo with Taj on the court, as they hold a stout 91.7 defensive rating. And although Gibson has struggled offensively, the Bulls have managed just fine on that end with him on the court. In fact, the Bulls have a better offensive rating with Gibson playing than they do with Boozer. All this adds up to a brilliant net rating of 8.0 for Gibson, which is tops on the team if you don't count the small sample size of Marquis Teague. Furthermore, according to Synergy, Gibson is giving up 0.67 PPP, good for 17th in the NBA.
There are obviously plenty of factors that go into these numbers, but it's pretty clear that the Bulls are playing better basketball with Gibson on the floor rather than Boozer. Things may hopefully change for the better for Boozer when Derrick Rose comes back, but those on/off court numbers are especially ugly right now. And if those numbers don't improve significantly, perhaps the Bulls could afford to amnesty Boozer and replace him with a mid-level type player?