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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Carlos Boozer was amnestied by the Chicago Bulls in July, and the Los Angeles Lakers won the amnesty bidding process. Last season, Boozer averaged 13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game in 28 minutes per game through 76 games played. He shot 46 percent from the field on 12.9 attempts and 77 percent from the line on 2.5 attempts. Boozer posted his lowest scoring, assist, and rebound numbers since his rookie season, to go along with career lows in steals and field goal percentage. Entering his 13th season in the NBA, Boozer now finds himself on his fourth team and is clearly on the downside of his career. With a new coach in Los Angeles, as well as a top-10 pick at his position on the roster in Julius Randle, Boozer's role is somewhat up in the air, but coach Byron Scott has said he will be in the mix as the team's starting power forward. Boozer's contribution was limited last season by his defensive inefficiencies, routinely sitting in the fourth quarter of games as a result. For fantasy purposes, Boozer has been a solid source of points and boards over his career but is a subpar contributor in the defensive categories of steals and blocks.
Boozer came off a solid season in his 2012-13 campaign, averaging 16.2 points (48 percent from the field, 73 percent from the line), 9.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 32 minutes per game. He was one of the main offensive options for the Bulls, who played the entire season without former MVP Derrick Rose. With Rose set to return to the 2013-14 season, an entirely different offensive system may be in place for the Bulls, which could negatively affect Boozer's touches. Boozer will head into his 12th season in the NBA at 31 years of age, where he could see a decline in overall production. Despite this, Boozer should still remain a solid fantasy option in a variety of leagues as long as he can stay healthy. He has missed just three games over the last two seasons. While his contributions are limited to just two or three categories, Boozer can still have a positive impact on fantasy rosters.
The Bulls bought into Boozer on the wrong side of his career arc. Once a double-double machine in Utah and thought to be part of Chicago’s “big three,” Boozer has experienced drop offs in each of his first two seasons with the Bulls. He averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season, which aren’t bad numbers, but not worth an average annual salary of $15 million. On the bright side, Boozer played and started all 66 games in the lockout-shortened season. Not many players can make that claim in a season when a day-to-day injury meant missing four games. While the trend on Boozer is heading downward, circumstances point to a bigger scoring role in 2012-13. Former MVP point guard Derrick Rose will miss approximately half the season. As we’ve seen the past few seasons, the Bulls have become Rose’s team, so Rose’s absence from the lineup opens up opportunities for others. Without him, we expect more offense to run through Boozer in the low post, where he still maintains an arsenal of moves. And he can be effective out to mid range. We’ll also need to see how Luol Deng copes with a torn ligament in his wrist. Deng is electing to not have surgery, but that doesn’t mean the wrist won’t become an issue at some point. If another core piece of the Bulls’ offense is forced to miss time, Boozer could have strong stretches where the Bulls are forced to put a lot of the offensive load on his shoulders this season.
On the surface, Boozer’s first season with the Bulls looked fairly similar to his six-year stint with the Jazz, but there were signs of regression as the year wore on, especially in the playoffs. He finished the season with averages of 17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 assists and 0.3 blocks while shooting 51.0 percent from the floor and 70.1 percent from the line – all in line with his career numbers. His production took a dip in the postseason, though, as Boozer averaged just 12.6 points per game. The 30-year-old veteran often looked athletically inferior to his competition, as his game is now purely below the rim. And while his move from Utah to Chicago meant Boozer would still be paired with one the league’s best point guards, it became apparent throughout the season his rapport with Derrick Rose wasn’t as smooth as the chemistry he shared with Deron Williams. Injuries were also a concern for Boozer again, after he missed 22 games with toe and ankle ailments, but neither appears to be a long-term issue. Despite some of the obvious flaws in his game, Boozer remains a solid source of scoring and rebuilding when healthy – just realize we’ve already seen the best he has to offer, and that was in Utah.
For years, the lack of a consistent scorer on the front line has been a glaring weakness for the Bulls. This summer, they addressed that hole in a big way, acquiring Boozer via a sign-and-trade deal with the Jazz and giving the team – on paper at least – one of the most formidable cores in the East. Boozer is a lock to post a double-double nearly every night, and is one of very few players with the potential to average 20-and-10 – he came up just shy last season, averaging 19.5 points and 11.2 boards in 78 games for Utah. Of course, games played is a significant category for Boozer – a notoriously slow healer, Boozer played in just 37 games in 2008-09, 33 in 2005-06, and 51 in 2004-05. Like most top bigs, Boozer shoots a very high percentage from the floor – 56.2 percent from the field last season and just under 50 percent on his career. Unlike the truly elite, he doesn't give you much beyond the points, boards and shooting and is a very poor shot blocker. The big question this season is if he'll establish the same sort of rapport with Derrick Rose that he shared with Deron Williams as one of the league's top pick-and-roll combinations; the additions of ex-Jazz teammates Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer to Chicago's roster this summer could help speed his transition.
After shedding the injury-prone label for a two-year stretch, Boozer was back on the sidelines for the majority of last season, as knee surgery cost him 44 straight games last year. (In fact, Boozer has missed at least 30 games in three of the past five seasons). When he finally returned to the court, he wasn’t entirely 100 percent, but Boozer picked it up down the stretch, including a monstrous, 23-point/22-rebound performance in the playoffs against the Lakers. During the offseason, Boozer decided not to opt out of his contract, so the Jazz are on the hook for $12.7 million this year. The team can’t be happy, since Paul Millsap proved he’s basically the same player as Boozer, but more durable, cheaper and younger. Still, Boozer’s expiring contract is a fine trade chip, and Utah will continue to explore deals. Because he’s likely to get moved at some point – perhaps around the trade deadline – Boozer’s value hinges in part on his future landing spot. Should he stay healthy, he’ll remain a nightly double-double threat so long as he sees north of 30 minutes per game.
Fantasy general managers, take note: you don’t rule out players just because of their medical records. Carlos Boozer is living proof. Just two years ago, Boozer was one of the most notorious “lepers” in the Association, having missed 80 games from 2004 to 2006 due to the world’s slowest-healing hamstring. In 2007-08, he started 81 games – suddenly, he’s Cal Ripken. And he made the most of his good health, posting a career-high 21.1 points per game, along with a shooting percentage of 54.7 from the field. He’s also doing a great job of shaking another label – that of a fantasy player who scores and boards but doesn’t contribute elsewhere. Last year he posted a career-best 1.2 steals per game and an assist average of close to three – very nice numbers for a big man. (Though he still doesn’t block shots.) Look for Boozer to continue running the old pick-and-roll with Deron Williams – in the grand Utah tradition of Stockton to Malone – and rack up another 20-and-10 season.
Boozer finally showed what he could do if healthy for an entire season. Missing only eight games (after missing 80 over the previous two), Boozer parlayed this health into a dominant 20.9-point, 11.7-rebound season, shooting 56.1 percent from the field and establishing himself as one of the best big men in the NBA. He still doesn’t contribute much on defense, but he got his assists up to 3.0 per game – a very respectable number for a power forward. If he can remain healthy this season, which is a big IF, he should remain one of the more effective fantasy big men in the league.
Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz – After missing significant time with a hamstring injury, Boozer finished the second half of last season strong, scoring 21.8 points and hauling in 9.8 rebounds per game in April. Boozer was the starting center during that stretch – the best the Jazz put together all year – so look for him to play more center this season. Boozer has an excellent post game with a nice touch around the rim and handles passes well. Head coach Jerry Sloan prefers the half-court game and working the ball in to his bigs. And it’s not like teams can leave Mehmet Okur to concentrate on Boozer. The two make for one of the more potent frontcourts in basketball.
Boozer has managed to upset fans in two cities, leaving Cleveland under dubious circumstances, and drawing accusations of dogging it in Utah when what was initially thought to be a minor foot injury kept him out for the last 31 games of the season. With Andrei Kirilenko out early in the year, Boozer was the unquestioned leader of the Jazz, averaging 20.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game over the first two months of the season. But as the season wore on, Boozer found himself in frequent foul trouble, limiting both his playing time and his production. Based on what he did in Cleveland two seasons ago, and the first two months of last season, there’s plenty of upside here if Boozer can stay healthy and keep his head in the game on the defensive end.
First, let's set aside the question of Boozer's arrival as a member of the Utah Jazz. Most fantasy leagues don't award points for "integrity in contract negotiations" anyway. Instead, let's concentrate on the matter at hand - Carlos Boozer is an absolutely perfect fit for this team. He plays the game right. He's very smart. He will sacrifice his body and play hard every minute. He will cover the glass. Utah will have a lot of options on offense, which could hurt Boozer's scoring... but he should make up for it in boards.
Boozer emerged as a valuable fantasy power forward after Tyrone Hill experienced back problems. He enters the 2003-04 season as the club’s starting power forward and should increase his minutes, meaning a potential for more points and rebounds. Expect 10 points and 8-9 rebounds per game. He’s got a nice touch around the basket, shooting 53.6 percent (3rd in NBA) from the field.
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Hopes to return to NBA
Boozer will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason after serving in a bench role for the majority of the 2014-15 season. The 13-year veteran had a mediocre season, averaging 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 24 minutes per game through 71 games played.
Boozer (illness) returned to action and posted four points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals in 18 minutes of action Wednesday against the Pelicans.