Posted on: October 11, 2010 9:36 am
Edited on: October 11, 2010 9:36 am

Shootaround 10.11.10: Ins and Outs

Turtlenecks are in for SVG, Splitter is out for the Spurs, Ron Artest's second ring is already on its way out, and Ryan Anderson is in gear for the Magic, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore

When the NBA announced a rule regarding coaching dress codes, which presumably would outlaw turtlenecks, everyone immediately thought of Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy himself actually said they should name the rule after him. But the Orlando Senitinel went out and discovered that SVG will be able to wear turtlenecks this season due to how the rule works. I don't know whether SVG should be happy or sad about his development.

Greg Oden says he can be an All-Star , when healthy. Honestly, no one doubts that out of Oden. He's tall, a huge advantage in the sport of basketball, and bulky, a big deal in the NBA. But he needs to not say things like this because it only attracts more attention to the fact that he hasn't proven he can stay healthy, or rehab effectively, or that his head's in the right place. He just needs to not talk about it, go out, and do it. Anything else is just going to bring the vultures.

Tiago Splitter continues to miss time with a leg injury . In the myriad of ways that his NBA career could have started, this isn't the worst, but it's up there. Nagging small injuries aren't just obnoxious and painful, they're hard for coaches and players to sympathize with, and call into quiestion a player's toughness. That's what Splitter's facing in preseason with a tough veteran Spurs club.

The Blazers are adding Steven Hill due to their lack of big men, which is awesome, because he's from Branson, Missouri. Hill should instantly be the leader in mini-golf handicaps .

Anthony Mason Jr. son of the former Knick star has been cut from the Heat. Too bad, he showed some flashes in limited time, but that roster's kind of full-up if you haven't noticed.

Ready for a storyline you can bank on this year? Raptor fans are going to go from feeling disdain towards Andrea Bargnani to outright hatred. He's going to get all the blame for the Raps , even while he probably leads the team in scoring. He's overpaid, but that guy needs a fresh start somewhere else more than anything.

The New York Daily News reports that the Bulls are investigating Carlos Boozer's fall to see if he really did injure himself tripping over a bag . Bulls by the Horns says that the investigation is neither surprising nor troubling , just business as usual. It's still not the way the Bulls wanted to start the era of their marquee free agent from the biggest FA summer in history.

Ron Artest is offering his second championship ring to whoever writes the best essay on how to improve the country. In case you're confused, no he has not won that second ring yet. Ron is not lacking for confidence on this team.

Vince Carter is beaming about Ryan Anderson, which is a good sign for the Magic. It really looks like Orlando will be in a position to use him more this season.

This is probably the last season for Antonio McDyess, and might be the last one for Marcus Camby. Bizarre to think of an NBA without those two vets, and sad to think they'll probably wrap up their careers without a ring.

Posted on: October 7, 2010 9:28 am

Shootaround 10.7.10: Thinkin' 'Bout Things

Bulls thinkin' 'bout Dampier, Wizards thinkin' 'bout a name change, and Kidd thinkin' 'bout playing till he's 40, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore

Peja Stojakovic says health will determine if he plays past this season , the final year of his contract. He wants to get through just one year pain free. It's something we rarely consider with these players, treating injuries like they're some sort of outside clamp that prevents them from playing instead of actual pain the players are experiencing.

With Boozer on the shelf, the Bulls are taking a long look at Erick Dampier, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com . The Bulls waived Chris Richard this week, which is surprising considering their lack of frontcourt depth and the job Richard did in limited minutes.

Marcin Gortat is not going to suddenly get quiet about the issue: he wants a bigger role, now. Unfortunately for him, the Magic are pretty much like "Deal with it, baldy ." Gortat signed a huge contract with the Mavericks last summer but the Magic matched it in restricted free agenc and here we are. For some reason the Magic think having a severely disgruntled Polish guy called "The Hammer" on their team is a good idea.

So this is pretty awesome. Ted Leonsis, the new Wizards owner, posted 101 things the Wizards have put in play to try and improve the fan experience at Wizards games. Some of the smallest details are covered, like how fresh the hot dog buns are. But hidden in there is the following: Changing the name back to the Bullets. Status? "Under consideration." Hold your breath, Bullets fans.

The Hawks exercised their option on Jeff Teague, which should surprise absolutely no one. Teague's locked up through next year, if there is a next year.

Kevin Garnett "went to a dark place " after last year's Finals, which is just classic over-the-top Garnett talk. He was pretty much a wreck after losing that series, leaving you to wonder how he deals with life in any sort of way whatsoever.

Rudy Ferandez' agent went absolutely psycho-hose-beast on local radio, basically pulling a "Leave Britney alone" speech for Fernandez. The kicker is when asked why Rudy wants to go home: "There's friends, there's family, he's a shy guy. He's special." And also a Fraggle, apparently.

Josh McRoberts had an outstanding line last night and the bandwagon is starting to Heat up. McRoberts has already filled into the starting PF spot for the Pacers, and with little competition, will probably hold onto it. A star is born? Maybe?

Jason Kidd wants to play until he's 40 , which is just ridiculous and yet completely believable on all fronts. Oddly, he's already a defensive liability, but the Mavs are thinking about moving him to shooting guard. Which could end up disastrous, but hey, you never know with Kidd. Dude's a survivor. He's going to make it. He's going to work harder. Keep on survivin'. What ?

This Nets-Knicks rivalry gets more entertaining every day .
Posted on: October 3, 2010 5:43 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2010 6:01 pm

With Boozer out eight weeks, Bulls start behind

Boozer forward not just out, but out at a bad time. Bulls may start in a hole to begin the season. Posted by Matt Moore

Carlos Boozer is out eight weeks with a broken hand , and while missing Boozer for any extended time is bad news for the Bulls, the timing is less ideal than some alternatives, even. Not only will Boozer miss the remainder of training camp while the team tries to integrate its schemes on both sides of the ball, but the schedule ensures that the Bulls will most likely be staring up at their Eastern Conference competitors when Boozer returns.

With an unofficial return date of November 28th, Boozer could miss up to fifteen games in that window if he's out the full eight weeks. Of those fifteen, nine of those games are against playoff teams from last season . Among the six non-playoff teams? They've got an improved Kings squad, and a much-improved Knicks team that may challenge for the playoffs. Detroit, Golden State, Washington, and Houston make up the remainder, and it's not like Houston's looking far behind this year. They've got four back-to-backs in that span, but the real problem? The real problem is the circus.

The Bulls are gone for a long stretch each November thanks to the circus occupying the United Center. It's a rough road stretch, and one that pretty much sprung the Bulls like a bad spring wound too tight last season. You're looking at Boozer missing the entire two weeks of that trip. If he were to try and come back six weeks in, he'd be coming in right at the start of that trip, including this murderer's row: at Houston, at San Antonio(back-to-back), at Dallas, at the Lakers, at Phoenix (back-to-back). Yikes.

While Boozer's out, the Bulls essentially become last season's team with better shooting guard play. Taj Gibson will take the majority of the time at power-forward, which he played admirably at last season. But the offensive gap in the post between him and Boozer is so high, that almost slices the Bulls in half. Then you've got to factor in time for Boozer to get back into rhythm with the offense and for the team to adjust.

The Bulls wanted to contend immediately in the East, with Boozer talking about winning a championship with this team. If they're going to get where they want to be, they're either going to need an absolutely hellacious run by Boozer's backup, or a stunning streak when he gets back. From where we're at on the eve of his injury, the Bulls look like they'll be climbing out of a hole immediately to start what was supposed to be their emerging season.

Them's the breaks, unfortunately. Tom Thibodeau's got his work cut out for him, right off the bat. Derrick Rose, you want to win the MVP ? Now would be a great time to hit that level. Like, now.

Update: K.C. Johnson of Chicago Breaking Sports reports that Boozer will need surgery and will defintely not return until after the circus trip.
Posted on: September 9, 2010 5:15 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2010 6:38 pm

Pop Quiz: How does Jefferson fit with the Jazz?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

How does Al Jefferson fit with the Jazz?

When Carlos Boozer departed for Chicago, the Jazz were facing a severe identity-search. Deron Williams may be the best point guard in the league (simmer down Chris Paul fans, I said "may"), but he can't do it alone. And even with Paul Millsap, the Jazz needed a legitimate post scorer. What they got, was a premier low-post scorer in the league in Al Jefferson.

Jefferson, who couldn't find a place in Minnesota (don't even get us started), is 25 years old, averaged 17.1 points and 9.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks last season. This in a season where he was coming back from significant knee surgery. Jefferson's offensive repertoire is extremely versatile, able to spot up, power-in, and comes with a drop-step hook that's a premium in today's NBA. He doesn't come without his question marks, though. Injury, defensive capability, and focus have all been listed as weaknesses on Jefferson. But that was in Boston and Minnesota. How does he fit with the Jazz?

Using Synergy Sports which provides us with in-depth stats of how players performed in certain sets, we can compare what Boozer did last season with the Jazz with what Jefferson did, and how the two overlap. For starters, Jefferson spent more time in isolation, just slightly. Boozer only spent 5.7% to Jefferson's 8% in ISO. Neither were very productive, scoring only .69 (Jefferson) and .67 (Boozer) respectively. Not surprising for post players, though. In the post, we see some surprising numbers. Boozer only played 21.5% of his overall scoring plays in the post (355 out of 1649). This is compared to Jefferson's 56.8% (772 out of 1358 total). Jefferson was also much more efficient, scoring .92 points per possession in the post to Boozers' not too shabby .79.

To take these numbers into context, it means that it's unlikely Jefferson will be taking over Boozer's role, so to speak. Boozer was strong, but not incredibly so in the post, Jefferson is very strong, and efficient. Another interesting aspect to consider, though, is that Boozer had a higher rate of shooting fouls drawn in the post. Boozer drew a shooting foul in the post 9% of the time to Jefferson's 7.4%. This helped even up the scoring percentage (percentage of possessions resulting in points) between Jefferson and Boozer (46.6% to 44.2%). Jefferson will need to draw more fouls in the post to duplicate Boozer's success there.

But if Jefferson is the stronger post player, it's in the pick and roll that we see where Jefferson will really have to adapt. Jefferson's likely to get a fair number of possessions in the post where he's comfortable. But in the pick and roll last season, Jefferson only wound up in a scoring situation off the P'n'R 6.4% of the time. This is compared to Boozer, who ran the pick and roll with Deron Williams to death, using it 13.5% of the time he was on the floor. Boozer was also hyper-efficient in this set, scoring 1.27 points per possession in the pick and roll, good for 11th best in the league. Jefferson on the other hand, shackled by either Kurt Rambis' triangle system, a lack of a solid point guard, or his own limitations, only ran the play 87 times total, and only had 1.02 points per possession, though that still ranked extremely well. With Deron Williams, Jefferson will need to duplicate or improve upon Boozer's performance if the Jazz want to not only meet their performance of the last few seasons, but exceed it. The area Jefferson will need to improve most upon in the P&R is turnovers.

Jefferson turned the ball over 12.6% of the time in that set, compared to just 5% for Boozer. That's a lot of opportunities that Jefferson left on the floor. Part of that will improve considerably with Deron Williams as his point guard. But Jefferson will have to know where he's at in the play and how to finish, and that may take time to learn in a new system, especially given how little he ran it last season. He'll also want to improve on drawing fouls, where Boozer was better at 10.4% to 8% for Jefferson in percentage of shooting fouls drawn. Some of that comes with better teammates creating opportunities down low, and some of it comes with being more aggressively moving towards the rim in that set.

Another surprising differential was what Boozer did off the cut. Boozer often received the benefit of the Jazz' cut plays, using cuts 364 times for scores for 22% of the time. Jefferson only ran off-cut 6.8% of the time. Both were very efficient in this set though, with Boozer scoring 1.29 points per possession to Jefferson's 1.26. This looks like an area that could really benefit Jefferson, if his body and knees are able to execute it properly.

Outside of what Utah did, Jefferson is able to bring some things he's a beast at. Specifically, scoring off of offensive rebounds. Jefferson and Boozer were nearly identical in their offensive rebounding performance. Jefferson had an offensive rebound rate  (percentage of all available offensive rebounds snagged) of 8.0%, and Boozer finished just slightly ahead at 8.2%. But in terms of scoring off of those rebounds, Jefferson is, quite simply, elite. Boozer is no slouch, scoring 1.16 points per possession off captured caroms. But Jefferson scored a stunning 1.41 points per possession of his 111 attempts. Once again, we see that Boozer was better at drawing fouls, though, getting to the stripe 11.3% of the time underneath versus only 5.4% for Jefferson. (In case you were wondering, neither were great at getting and-ones here, with Boozer only nailing the shot and drawing the foul three times, to Jefferson's 4). Jefferson managed to score 70.3% of the time when he grabbed an offensive rebound. That's stunning stuff. The Jazz have had troubles with being tough down low. Jefferson looks like he'll improve that area offensively immediately.

Of course, offense is only half the battle, and most cliche artists will tell you it's the lesser half. Defensively is where Boozer really looks like the better player. Boozer, being slighter, took on more isolation players, and held them to only a .7 points per possession mark. Jefferson, on the other hand, spent only 54 plays on defense in ISO situations, ending up with a .98 PPP mark. In the post, where we saw Jefferson was strongest offensively, Boozer was still the better player. Boozer used his length and savvy to harass opponents into a .88 PPP mark. Not elite, but not shabby. Jefferson wasn't far behind however. Jefferson allowed a .92 PPP mark, and only gave up a shooting foul 8.5% of the time, to Boozer's 14.8%. This helped even the gap, and the two finished remarkably close to one another in scoring percentage allowed in the post, with Jefferson slightly ahead (45.8% for Al to 45.9% for Boozer).

What does this mean? It means that in a better defensive system, Jefferson could not only not be the weak link, but could also be an improvement. In a bizarre development, both players defended the pick and roll man only 8% of the time. The results, however, indicate that Jefferson has a ways to go. Jefferson allowed a .95 PPP with a 46.2% scoring percentage. This is in contrast to Boozer, who allowed only .79 PPP and a 37.7% scoring percentage. Boozer did foul more in this situation, which is indicative of Sloan's system which is more likely to foul than allow easy layups or dunks.

All of this gives us a picture of what the Jazz will look like on the floor. If Jefferson is able to maintain his efficiency and burly nature down low on the offensive end while improving in the pick and roll, the Jazz offense will have a pair of beasts for Deron Williams to work with, and it may take a considerable amount of pressure off Mehmet Okur so he can do what he does best, shoot from the outside. The Jazz offense might wind up with better numbers than it had with Boozer. Defensively will be the issue, and head coach Jerry Sloan will need to work with Jefferson on where he needs to be and applying pressure. In an offensively loaded Western Conference, the Jazz have to be able to slug it out or they'll wind up in the same position many teams have found themselves. Able to bring their guns to the fight but without any protection from their opponents' weapons.

Next to Deron Williams, this could be one of the biggest surprises of the season. We've said for years that Jefferson just needs a chance to show what he can do. He's got that opportunity, now. The question will be if he can step up like Boozer has, and if he can bring the toughness Utah desperately needs.

Oh, yeah, and he needs to stay healthy. That too.

Posted on: September 8, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 5:17 pm

NBA F&R Interview: Carlos Boozer wants one back

The Bulls newest star talks about Jerry Sloan, championship dreams, and the one game he wants another crack at. Posted by Matt Moore

Carlos Boozer has taken his new role as a leader of the Bulls by the horns. (What? Why are you looking at me like that? Is there some sort of pun in play? Hmm?) He's been vocal about setting high expectations for the team, has been a visible presence in his new city, and is putting himself forward as the new cornerstone of the franchise beside Derrick Rose. This weekend, he's the guest commissioner at Gatorade's Replay Series Season 3 event, which features two teams replaying a game which ended in a shroud of controversy, something Boozer's been no stranger to in his career and that he continues with his championship goal declarations in Chicago. CBSSports.com spoke with Boozer today about what stands in the way of that goal, going from small market Salt Lake City to big city Chicago, his time with Jerry Sloan, and the one game he wants back. 

Matt Moore: You got a lot of publicity for your comment about competing for a championship. What's going to be the biggest challenge in pursuit of that goal you're setting?

Carlos Boozer: That's what we play for, every NBA player. I'm very vocal about it. I want a ring, and my teammates want a ring. I think the biggest challenge will be coming together with our team chemistry. We also need to work to be a good, consistent defensive team. Also, continuing to see how we respond when we have a couple losses or if we're up and down. Can we fight back up and have that courage and confidence to keep going? In playoffs, we need to see how we fight back in a series. We'll learn a lot about our team, but the goal has to be a championship. That's what we all work for.

MM: Have you already noticed a huge change in going from a small market like Utah to Chicago?

CB: Oh, yeah, it's a lot different. I think I've been able to work my butt off and become a good player. The media coverage is a lot more intense than Salt Lake City. It's great, though, this is a great sports town, with the Blackhawks, the White Sox, the Cubs, the Bears, and obviously the Bulls. I'm looking forward to being a part of it. 

MM: What's the biggest thing you'll take away from your time with Coach Sloan?

CB: Everything. He was phenomenal for me. He called and I talked to him just last week. He was able to turn our team into a contender, even without Karl Malone and Stockton. He really managed the transition of that team to the current one. I think after the Malone era, they were looking for an identity, and we came in and turned that into a contender. He really helped bridge the gap between the Karl Malone era to the early 2000's and 2010's. It's a tribute to him and his coaching that his teams have that kind of consistent success. 

MM: Gatorade is allowing teams to go back and have another shot to replay their greatest wins and most bitter defeats. What game do you want back?

CB: The great thing about this is, Gatorade's been able to give guys games we want to replay. For me, the game against Indiana, when I was a junior in college, what turned out to be my last game at Duke. In Rupp Arena, we were in the Sweet 16 against Indiana. There was a kid had seven 3s in second half, named Tom Coverdale. We were down by 4 at the end, and my teammate Jay Williams hit a three, and got fouled. I grabbed the rebound, went up between two Hoosiers, both of which were grabbing my arms. I thought I got fouled, there was no call, I missed the shot and we lost the game. I wish I could have that one back. There are a lot of games that stand out. This gives them a chance to replay it, especially the two teams playing on Friday. There was a tip at the buzzer, and one feels it was before the buzzer and the other after.

These guys have been training for 8 weeks. They've met with nutrition specialists, and have been going to the Gatorade Sport Science Institute . I'm an honorary commissioner for the game, and I'm looking forward to it. It's fun to be a part of it.

MM: You've got Noah down low, Rose has been working on his three-point shot, and you added Kyle who you've played with. How do you like the balance on this team?

CB: We've got a lot of balance, a lot of depth. I think up front, I think Joakim and I have a chance of being a more dynamic frontcourt, along with Kurt Thomas. In the backcourt, Derrick Rose is one of the more dynamic scorers in the league. We've got Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, who you mentioned for defense and shooting. I think we'll be better than what a lot of people think. We have Luol Deng on the wing, which is great to have. But we have to go earn our respect. With the talent that we have, and the hunger we have, I think we're ready to really push for a championship.

Thanks to Carlos for his time and Gatorade for its assistance with this interview.

Posted on: September 7, 2010 9:21 am
Edited on: September 7, 2010 12:54 pm

Shootaround 9.7.10: Believe!

Reggie believes in Wade, Thomas believes in loyalty, and Butler believes in Burger King.Posted by Matt Moore

Reggie Miller believes the Heat are still DWade's team . Miller's probably on target here, but the fact that this is debatable is an interesting thought exercise. After all, we say we determine the quality of a player not by his performance, but by how many rings he has. Wade is the only one of the Miami Triad to have a ring, and yet LeBron is burdened with leadership of the squad. It's possible that this whole thing could only serve to show us how we've been underrating Dwyane Wade the past few years.

In a summer that put a very large nail in the coffin of loyalty in sports, the Mavs' actions towards Tim Thomas remain a hand propping it open. Art Garcia spoke with both Thomas and the Mavs , and both sides used the Magic word, loyalty, in their joint decision to add Thomas to the Mavericks' roster this season after his wife's illness forced him away from the game. We'll see if both sides remain loyal if Thomas does well enough to earn more money next season, or poorly enough to force the Mavericks' hand at the trade deadline.

Derrick Rose has been obsessing over improving his three-point range shot. The Bulls were one of the worst offenses and one of the worst perimeter shooting teams in the league last season. They were simply without a perimeter threat. They brought in Kyle Korver to fix that problem. But Rose is taking that burden upon himself and working to improve it while he's with Team USA. Giving that kid range makes him essentially unguardable. Yikes.

A list of NBA pairings that should happen, including Greg Oden and the Phoenix training staff .

Caron Butler owns six Burger Kings , mostly due to the fact that he used to work at one. Do what you know, I suppose.

It's time to put childish things away and start acknowledging the potential that lies in Miami.

Larry Drew says the Hawks are going to switch less , which is a terrific idea. The switching killed the Hawks against the top teams in the league. Surprisingly, it worked against the Celtics, because they weren't fast enough to make the Hawks pay. But against Orlando, the Magic shredded them off switches by forcing penetration in the interim and creating space, the building block of their offense.

Kobe's ready to go at it again . Raise your hand if you're surprised.

An interesting look at who the Magic's rival is now. The Heat-Magic rivalry has several factors boosting it. It's an in-state rivalry, Dwyane Wade has killed the Magic (on a performance, not win-based level) over the years, and the teams play four times a year. The fans say the Celtics, but we'll see what they say by the end of the year.

In case you've been missing them, check out our Pop Quiz series .

Follow us on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA

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 26, 2010 8:41 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 9:19 am

Shootaround 8.26.10: Heat defense and Boom fat

More on Heisley's train wreck, Chinese investor deal falls through for the Cavs, the Heat defense, and Baron Davis' fat.
Posted by Matt Moore

Earlier in the week we told you about Michael Heisley's train wreck on Memphis radio . Now, Chris Herrington writing for the Memphis Flyer has gone through the interview quote by quote to outline just how off Heisley is in his logic and assertions. It's so bad that Herrington had to break it into two parts . That's a fairly impressive crash and burn for the owner of a major sports league franchise.

How good are the Heat going to be on defense? That's the question John Krolik walks us through on Pro Basketball Talk. Krolik asserts that Wade and James are not only terrific perimeter defenders, but their weaknesses should be covered by the other's strengths (ex. Wade's weak post-defense can be managed by James' strength there). The big questions, predictably, surround their low-post defense and it's likely going to be up to Bosh to step up for the Heat to be dominant defensively. Bosh is going to have to be the player he was treated as and paid to be in free agency, with a complete game to go alongside those pretty jumpers and rebounds.

Former NBA player Jay Vincent has been indicted in an internet scam fraud.

The deal to bring in Chinese investors to the Cavaliers fell apart months ago , via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. The investment was partially targeted by Cavs ownership to help woo LeBron James. It represents just another in a long series of events that likely did not help the Cavs in retaining James, despite a feeling from most people that his relocation was planned out months or maybe even years ago. If there was any chance of him changing his mind, front-office moves and things like this deal falling apart likely didn't help instill confidence from him in the franchise or its future.

Danny Ferry has rejoined the Spurs and will oversee their D-League affiliate among other duties. The Spurs take the operation of their affiliate very seriously and Ferry is a prime candidate for this kind of job. It's likely a welcome relief to be working with players that want a job again after his recent experiences.

Long story short: fouling or not fouling when up three will pretty much net you the same win percentage. Go figure. No, seriously, go figure, because the math behind this stuff is fairly complicated.

Baron Davis refutes a report that he's gone tubbo. No word on if he's also going to refute the assertion that he's lazy, injury-prone and inefficient.

Scottie Pippen's getting his own statue , which is pretty neat for him. Of course the best pose of him won't make it: him standing over Patrick Ewing.

A Stern Warning reports that Patty Mills will remain a Blazer this season .

Some really great news for Mikhail Torrance, who suffered a heart attack in a work-out, collapsed, and slipped into a coma. He's breathing on his own again .

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