Tag:Joakim Noah
Posted on: September 2, 2010 10:46 am
Edited on: September 2, 2010 10:48 am
 

Boozer thinks Bulls are championship caliber

Bulls new forward thinks they can compete for a championship, this season.
Posted by Matt Moore


The NBA is extremely elitist in terms of contenders for its championship. Versus the NFL, where 20 fanbases or so are going into next Thursday night's opener thinking if everything goes right for them, their team can bring back the Lombardi, and fifteen of those are actually being reasonable, in the NBA that list is about four teams.

The Lakers, obviously.

The Celtics, naturally.

The Heat, you'd have to say.

And if you're feeling generous, the Magic. They did make the Finals two years ago after all.

But is there a fifth team? Is there another team that could challenge the mountain, overcome it, and achieve what Ninja Warrior describes as "total victory?" What about the Bulls?

Carlos Boozer is here to tell you they are right in the mix for the NBA championship. When asked about the Bulls' goals for the upcoming season, Boozer told ESPN Chicago:


"A championship," he told ESPNChicago.com on Wednesday night after a Nike House of Hoops event. "I think a realistic goal for us is a championship. I think anything shorter than that we're setting ourselves up to be shorter than what we can reach. I think [we have] potential to be a championship-level team."

Well, then, Carlos. Don't hold yourself back. Really put yourself out there. There's no question that the Bulls have improved significantly from the team that was one-and-done'd by the Cavs and Celtics the past two seasons. But to be a championship contender in the East among all the powerhouses that now exist? Most striking is that essentially Boozer's attributing the team that the Bulls had last year, plus himself, along with Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, to be the difference in the 8th seed and a championship.

If Boozer's going to have that kind of impact, it's probably important to compare this team to the Utah Jazz team that Boozer's been playing for when uninjured for the past few seasons. The Jazz have been a great team, well coached, disciplined, versatile, and effective. They even made the Western Conference Finals in 2007. Of course, that was primarily on account of them landing Golden State in the second round following one of the most shocking upsets in NBA history. How does this Bulls team stack up with the Utah team that's been plugging away (and getting swept out to the sea by LA) the last few years?

Derrick Rose is a phenomenal talent on the rise, one of the best point guards already. In Team USA play, he's shown off an improved jumper to go along with his superb quickness and touch. But is he better than Deron Williams? Hard to argue at this point. Rose's ceiling is certainly equal with, or possibly superior to Williams, but Williams is considered by many to be the best point guard in the NBA (with apologies to co-owner of that title, Chris Paul). Williams' defense is phenomenal, using his size and reach to harass opponents, and his all-around offensive game is nearly unstoppable when he's healthy.

Joakim Noah is probably the biggest upgrade for the Bulls over Boozer's Jazz. Versus Mehmet Okur, who is primarily a perimeter shooter, Noah is a workhorse down low, plowing whatever needs plowing on both sides of the ball. He's emerged as a top center in the league, though he's far from the top of the class just yet. Luol Deng may be an improvement over Andre Kirileko, depending on what you're looking for, but Deng's inconsistency is just as maddening as Kirilenko's injury problems. And new additions Brewer and Korver were members of that same Jazz team. Hard to argue they're significant upgrades now.

Which brings us to Boozer. The resume is certainly there on paper. 19.5 ppg, 11.2 rbg, 56% from the floor, PER of 21.3, which is up there with Brandon Roy and Steve Nash. His playoff stats are even higher. So why is it then that he's never been considered among the elite in the NBA? There are those that say that his stats can often be empty, and that he is unable to make the same impact on the game as his peers in that regard. But the numbers don't lie. However, there is something about Boozer that seems to indicate there's a piece missing. That's partially why he was brought into Chicago to be the secondary option behind Rose. It's simply hard to see how this cast of characters will dramatically alter things in a top-heavy East just because of his acquisition.

Of course, this is all based around individual assessments. For a more accurate picture, we need to look at the system as a whole. And that leads us to a more promising look. Boozer provides Rose with a capable pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop partner, as well as a low-post scorer he can turn to. While Boozer's interior defense is nothing to write home about (he allowed a 46% FG% in the post last season), Noah can help with that due to his size. His passing ability should help the offense funnel the ball to its new shooter, Kyle Korver, and his leadership should not be discounted. The Bulls as a team look incredibly strong.

But are they a championship team? With the Celtics, Magic, and Heat all in their conference, meaning they'll have to get through at least two of them most likely in the playoffs, the Bulls have to measure themselves against those teams. And while it's certainly reasonable to be excited about this season, the firepower of those other teams has to lead you to believe Boozer may want to scale it back a bit. Only way up is through, though, I suppose.


Posted on: August 9, 2010 8:42 am
 

Shootaround 8.9.10: Heat to pass 72?

Posted by Royce Young
  • Jeff Van Gundy says the Heat will be historically great : "They will break the single-season win record [of 72],'' Van Gundy told the Miami Herald. "And I think they have a legit shot at the Lakers' 33-game [winning] streak [in 1971-72], as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series ... They will never lose two games in a row this year. They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected. There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will. And with  Erik Spoelstra coaching, they will be in the top three defensive teams in the league, as well. The other 29 teams better hope the lockout gets moved up a year.''
  • Where do the two O'Neal's fit together in Boston? Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston weighs in: "However, I actually see potential in an O'Neal-O'Neal frontcourt. Celtics GM Danny Ainge noted that he was eager to utilize Jermaine O'Neal at the 4 this season, and high-mileage legs aside, I don't see why it can't work against another team's second unit. It's not like they're going to spend 20 minutes together on the court per game, so if you need to lean on that pairing for a sequence or two each game, I don't see a problem."
  • David Aldridge of NBA.com also reports the Pistons are actively discussing McGrady but aren't close to a decision either way. Aldridge also says the Pistons are expected to try and move Prince before the start of the season, thus making room for McGrady.
  • Multiple people have mentioned this, but it's a good question: How does the Knicks consulting job work for Isiah Thomas? With his relationship to the Knicks, wouldn't him coaching at Florida International mean he's having improper contact with underclassmen?
  • Frank Isola of the NY Daily News says Donnie Walsh should walk away : "Walsh is too respected by his peers to take orders from Dolan via Thomas. We know Walsh has no use for Thomas and therefore can't work with him or more precisely work for him. Full autonomy? Please. Thomas is calling the shots now. There is too much distrust and bad blood already for this to be anything less than a terrible marriage. The fact that Dolan can't see that Walsh has done a solid job tells you all you need to know. This is the same guy who blames the media coverage for nine straight losing seasons. So quit, Donnie. Resign. Walk away. You've already said you'll stick it out because you're a class act. But you deserve better."
  • Joakim Noah and the Bulls are talking extension : "Of course that's the goal," he told ESPNChicago.com after a charity event for his Noah's Arc Foundation in Queens on Friday night. "I'm not really worried about it. I think everything's going to happen with time and at the end of the day, I'm really excited about the upcoming season."
  • Robert Parish loves Boston's move for Shaq: “Shaq can still start for at least 15 teams, maybe 20 teams,’’ Parish told the Boston Globe. “I would say that time has caught up with him but he can still be a factor and not to mention defensively. He’s long and has a lot of mass and is going to take up a lot of room and that definitely is where the Celtics’ strong suit is, defensively. I think that’s where he gets it done. I think Shaq will definitely bring a defensive presence along with Garnett. He’s going to cause a lot of havoc defensively and he still can get it done offensively.’’
Posted on: August 5, 2010 7:53 am
Edited on: August 5, 2010 10:54 am
 

Shootaround 8.5.10: Candy kids

Posted by Matt Moore

The Pacers continue to search for a point guard option . There comes a point where you just have to recognize you can't go forward without a positional upgrade and you have to commit the resources necessary to acquire one. The Pacers have hit that point, but now there aren't really many options. However, if Lance Stephenson can just show a baseline of point play like he did in Summer League, he could be an option. I never would have thought that a reasonable match, but Stephenson looked like a better combo point than several attempted hybrids have.

Consider this. With Shaq signing not only with Boston, but in Boston for a two-year deal , the odds are high that his last NBA game will be as a Celtic. Try and wrap your brain around that.

Almost everyone agrees that Mark Cuban, for all his antics, is a great owner. But after Cuban lost the bid for the Texas Rangers last night, one reporter thinks his heart wasn't in it to begin with, and has some harsh words . It's hard to imagine Cuban doing the bidding of anyone, and the fact is that Cuban has been one of the best stories in sports ownership over the past decade. Committed not only to winning, but not throwing out money to ridiculous personnel like New York.

The Suns signed Matt Janning who looked good in Vegas Summer League . This brings their total number of goofy looking white point guards to three.

Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian want to have children . Tremble for your world, ye children of men.

Bulls blog Bulls by the Horns points out that Joakim Noah has improved his jumper . That's a fairly siginificant step for a player just to become decent and another sign that Noah is still even better than we think he is, and at this point we think he's pretty good.

In a lot of ways, Ben Wallace is the anti-Shaq. Doesn't say much. Does his job. Re-signs with the team that he's loyal to . You know, those kind of things.

Shannon Brown thinks playing time, more money, and a system that fits his skills are all fairly useless things . Why be a prince in an upcoming neighborhood with tons of potential when you can be a lapdog in Bevery Hills? Wanting to stay where you had success is nice, as is the loyalty factor, if that really is part of it. But Brown is poorly suited for the triangle and has more value elsewhere than he does in LA, walking the ball up as a third stringer and sitting in a corner waiting for a three. He's a slasher, a driver, a creator. But hey, his career. And the rings are always nice.

Bill Walton is working with Roy Hibbert, which can only lead to good things . My question? Where's Rik Smits?!

Sharks + Thunder= Thundersharks .

Posted on: August 3, 2010 11:30 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2010 11:31 pm
 

NBA's 2011 MLK day is stellar as usual

Posted by Matt Moore

Along with the Christmas and opening day schedules released tonight by the NBA, the MLK Jr. Day schedule was also revealed. And just as in years past, the slate's pretty solid. If only we had a trusty NBA blog to run down the games that day.

Wait, we do have a blog like that! It's this one!

Okay, I'll stop. Here's the rundown.

1PM EST, Bulls at Grizzlies:

The Grizzlies had a huge win last year on MLK day over the Suns, a team much better than them in 2009-2010. And they'll find themselves in a similar situation this year. Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer make the Bulls a much better team than they were last year on paper. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have only added a shooting guard they can't come to terms with despite the existence of a rookie pay scale. So they've got that going for them.

But still, this should be a good matchup, if the Grizzlies aren't on a back-to-back. Marc Gasol and Joakim Noah are very different but nearly equal players in terms of production and skill. Zach Randolph is the flip side of Carlos Boozer. More consistent, less injury prone, and continuosly hammered for his locker room cancerous behavior. Not that Boozer is a saint, he's just somehow been excused regularly despite his contract situation being a distraction for Utah the last two years. But their production is similar so that's nearly a wash as well. Rudy Gay is a better but younger version of Luol Deng, and O.J. Mayo's scoring punch and perimeter defensive speed counters Kyle Korver/Ronnie Brewer's specific but limited skill-sets. Unfortunately, that Derrick Rose guy exists. Advantage: Bulls.

Let's not even talk about the bench diffferential, which is considerable. Like I said, back-to-back for the Grizz would be a bad, bad thing here.

4PM EST, Kings at Hawks:

The Hawks got ran last MLK by an up and coming Western Conference team in the Thunder. So naturally the league scheduled them against a similar, and only slightly worse in the Kings. Joe Johnson versus Tyreke Evans should make for a good theater, and Al Horford versus DeMarcus Cousins could be one of the most bizarre conflicts of style and personality among players under 25 all season. And hey, what says Martin Luther King Jr. Day more than Omri Casspi and Zaza Pachulia?

8EST, Magic at Celtics:

You don't really expect me to provide you with a preview for the estimated 22nd meeting of these two teams in three years, do you? Because if you do, you expect way too much out of me.

Oh, hey, something-something, Shaquille O'Neal versus Dwight Howard. Boom.

10:30PM EST, Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers:

This is likely going to be a back-to-back for the Thunder. That's generally how these things work. But in what could well end up being an MVP season for Kevin Durant, it still should be incredibly fun. As we saw in the playoffs, these two teams are extremely well matched, and even with the Lakers' upgrades off the bench, OKC's continued development should make for a strong foil to their heavily favored position.

Plus, Cole Aldrich versus Pau Gasol could be high comedy.

Posted on: July 7, 2010 5:13 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2010 5:17 pm
 

Bulls agree to terms with Carlos Boozer

The Bulls aren't walking away empty-handed from this free agency period.

Sources tell CBSSports.com's Ken Berger that the Bulls have reached an agreement with Carlos Boozer. The news was first reported by ESPN and the Chicago Tribune 's KC Johnson.

Boozer fits a need for the Bulls, providing low-post scoring and rebounding to go alongside Joakim Noah, and provides a veteran on a relatively young crew. He's not the most sterling of free agents, but he does bring some high efficiency. Boozer averaged 19.5 points and 11.5 rebounds last season (contract year!) for the Jazz, with 21.3 PER. It doesn't put him in any elite levels, but if he can provide scoring for the Bulls offense as a post-presenct, that's what they need.

KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune also makes note that the deal leaves space for a max contract if the Bulls can sign one. The only target remaining of course, is LeBron James. And trying to figure out where he's going is like trying to answer the Sphinx's question underwater.

If the Bulls don't land James, they'll still have an improved team next year with Boozer, but will be paying a pretty penny for him at 34 years of age when this deal expires. The Bulls will have to hope Derrick Rose becomes the superstar and that Boozer's scoring and Noah's defense is enough, along with whatever else the Bulls can acquire, to contend for a championship.

-Matt Moore
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com