Before the season started if you would have asked me about the one free agent to be I wouldn’t want to see on the Nets, my answer would have been Carlos Boozer. I thought he was a solid player, but I didn’t really see his game fitting in with the current Nets roster, and I didn’t really think he was a guy worth a max contract. However, with that being said, the playoffs have really changed my opinion of Boozer.
As you probably know by now, the Nets aren’t in the playoffs, so when I am watching the games I am keeping my eye on soon-to-be free agents. Some observations have been obvious. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Amar’e Stoudemire are all really really good. Nets fans are going to have to prepare for these three resigning with their current teams (rumors are coming out that all three are planning – or at least going to try – to do so) and look towards other options. That is when I started watching (and rewatching) Jazz games and just focusing on Carlos Boozer, and he has been playing like a man during these playoffs. He has averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds throughout, even as he battles a ribcage injury (he isn’t playing against slouches either).
It wasn’t just the numbers that impressed me either, after watching his play I am really starting to think that Boozer’s style will fit with the Nets. The Nets really need a power forward with Yi Jianlian and Kris Humphries appearing that they both aren’t the answer (granted they are both nice pieces off of the bench) and Boozer could be the guy. His time with the Jazz has really made him into a very good pick and roll player, and pairing him with Devin Harris who is a very good point guard when running the pick and roll could lead to some pretty special things.
What about Brook Lopez you ask? Well, I can come up with two sets the Nets can run with Brook and Boozer in at the same time. The first would involve Brook and Boozer both at the high post on different sides of Devin Harris. Harris chooses what screen he wants to use and goes from there. Both Brook Lopez and Carlos Boozer have a good enough outside game that if they aren’t the screener in this set, they can just spot up for a jumper if their man helps.
1) Devin would choose what screen he wants to use, and here he chooses Brook Lopez. 2) Devin now has three options, he could attack the basket, hit Brook rolling to the basket. 3) Or he can hit the other big man spotting out for the jumper.
The other thing the Nets could do is run a high low set with whichever big man who has the mismatch setting up in the low post. Both Brook Lopez and Carlos Boozer are good enough passers and shooters to work out of the high post.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, Carlos Boozer would bring a toughness and swagger the Nets don’t currently have (except from a few hard fouls from Kris Humphries every once in a while). The Nets don’t really have a vocal leader on their team, and while Devin tried this past year, he is more of a lead by example guy.
The Nets have a very good core in place (Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee, and a top 4 pick), but they seem to be missing one key piece. That piece is a Power Forward, and while I have my sights set on Chris Bosh, my opinion of Carlos Boozer has changed during the Jazz’s playoff run so far this year. Before the playoffs, if you told me Boozer would be a Net, I would not be happy at all. Now? Well, now I can see it working out well for the team.