Posted by: Andy-Larsen on April 27th, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Carlos Boozer’s play this year has been nothing short of terrific. His ability to respond to critics and perform, at as high of a level as ever, has been nothing short of incredible. To this end, I think Kevin O’ Connor needs some credit for not making a panic trade to get rid of Boozer. His array of moves to score are among the most impressive in the NBA, and nowhere was this more clear than in game 4. Let’s look at how Boozer impacted the game.
To do so, I will use a tool called mySynergySports. Synergy Sports is a scouting service used by the vast majority of NBA teams (all but 3, I’ve read) to scout opponents on video and to break down their tendencies. Synergy has just released a similar product to basketball fans like me, and the best part is that it’s significantly cheaper than the real NBA version: 30 dollars until September 30th. If you care at all about scouting or statistical analysis, I highly recommend getting this tool, at mySynergySports.com.
Anyway, let’s look at how Boozer scored his points last night. We’ll see some remarkable versatility.
1st Q 8:36: Boozer gets an entry pass from CJ Miles, simply backs down Nene (who shows a remarkable lack of resistance) and drops it in with the left hand.
1st Q 7:32: Boozer gets a pass from Deron off a screen at the free throw line extended, steps back and makes the jumper.
1st Q 5:04: Boozer gets the ball in the post, attempts to spin towards the basket, gets stripped by Nene, regathers the ball and makes the layup easily.
1st Q 3:00: Deron pushes the ball up the court to Wesley Matthews. Melo chases Matthews, leaving Boozer open in the post for the bounce pass to dunk.
1st Q 2:12: Millsap misses a tough post-shot, Boozer runs across the paint to get the rebound, stops as Nene flies by, and easily lays the ball in on the left side.
2nd Q 4:43: Boozer easily taps the ball in off the front of the rim after a missed jumper by Deron.
3rd Q 11:01: Boozer receives ball at the top of the key, holds the ball for two seconds then drives past Nene on the left side for an easy left-handed layup.
3rd Q 6:55: Boozer runs pick and pop with Deron, Deron begins to penetrate before dishing it out to Boozer for the wide open jumper from the top of the key.
3rd Q 5:40: CJ strips the ball, passes it to Deron on the fast break, who throws it cross court to Boozer. Boozer receives it at the three point line, makes a ball fake back to Deron to prevent Chauncey Billups from taking the charge, then makes the layup while picking up the foul on Chauncey. Fantastic play.
3rd Q 1:38: Boozer sets screen for double teamed Deron on the perimeter. Deron passes it to Boozer off the roll, who begins to drive put then pulls up for the jumper at the free throw line.
4th Q 10:42: Boozer receives ball from 20 feet away, holds it away from Nene, before driving right (while admittedly wiping away Nene with his left) to easily go through the paint for the punctuating dunk.
4th Q 9:17: Wesley Matthews begins to penetrate, and then passes to a baseline cutting Boozer for the easy layup. Great pass to a great cut by Boozer.
4th Q 3:12: Boozer runs to set the screen for a pick and roll, but Deron passes it to him first at the free throw line. Boozer nails the turnaround jumper.
Interspersed with these plays are 5 free throws that gave Boozer his 31 points last night. What is remarkable about his game was the variety: He got 5 points from free throws, 4 points from posting up, 8 points from his jump shot, 4 points from off the ball cuts, 4 points from perimeter drives, 4 points from offensive rebound putbacks and 2 points from transition.
Compare that to Carmelo’s points. He got more of them, 39, but they were more predictable: 9 free throws, 4 points from offensive rebounds, 12 points from pull up 3s, and 8 points from isolation 2 point jumpers, and 6 points from pick and roll layups. What this shows us is that Carmelo is tremendously skilled at what he does, but his skill set is somewhat limited to making tough jumpers and driving on smaller opponents. Boozer might be able to score in more ways then Denver’s golden boy.
Interestingly, Boozer’s defense this season has also improved. His defense has been comparable to far more respected post defenders. Let’s compare him to Denver’s Kenyon Martin, to stay within the series. Martin was given a lot of credit in the season for improving the Nuggets’ toughness and defense. The sheet below compares Boozer and Martin. Boozer is the first line in each category, while Martin is the second line :
Boozer allows marginally fewer points per possession (PPP) than Martin, 0.85 to 0.86. Boozer’s post-up and isolation defense is slightly better, while Martin more successfully defends the pick and roll. The result is an approximately even defensive matchup, something that probably would not have been the case in the past.
To sum up, we should give credit where its due. Boozer has been one of the most important factors in the Jazz’ winning ways this season. It would have almost certainly been a mistake to trade him (especially given the disappointing return in trade rumors), and Boozer should receive credit for playing as well as he has after the substantial (probably deserved) criticism he received last summer.
So any ideas where the critics have gone? We haven’t heard from them since Boozer sat out/was kept out for the last game of the regular season.
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