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Fouls, Dunks, and Boozer’s Contactphobia

August 29, 2008

Regarding my assertion that Boozer’s offensive contributions are offset by his negative defensive contributions and propensity for “stupid fouls” necessitated by dogging plays on D (and that AK, with his lesser propensity for taking plays off, would be better suited for the position, despite his relatively lower PPG and RPG, because he actually makes an effort on both ends of the court and commits far fewer of said “stupid fouls” */**):

A while back, 82games put up foul stats for the 07-08 season. I won’t be looking at shooting and personal fouls because Jerry preaches making the opponent earn their points from the line (vs. easy layups or dunks) and players committing a shooting foul aren’t always fouling their own man. Yes, I am as sick of my harping on about Booz as you are, so let’s settle it by taking a look at Utah’s loose ball, offensive, and illegal D foul rankings:

Of note: Boozer ranked 9th in the L in loose ball/over the back fouls. More on this later when we explore loose ball fouls drawn.

Of note: Boozer ranked 3rd in the league in offensive fouls. Now, we all know that DWill is not shy about driving all the way to the hole. Sometimes the calls go your way, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes the refs swallow their whistles. The point is, DWill often takes it to the hole strong, so there is some justification for him coming in 21st overall; on the other hand, when’s the last time anyone saw Boozer take it in strong? My assertion here is that his propensity for offensive fouls are not the result of power moves, but rather him running over/stiff-arming his opponents in a way that he knows is illegal, and hoping that the refs don’t catch him.

Any surprises here? Which Jazz player is most likely to lose track of what they’re doing on defense?

Boozer committed more fouls than all but two NBA players last season (and only one less than 2nd place winner Amare Stoudemire) and averaged more fouls than all but three players. 81 of his 293 fouls (roughly 28%) were loose ball, offensive, or illegal D fouls. (Just to put it into persepctive, Karl only surpassed 300 fouls once in his career, and 290 in two other seasons. And he was an all-defense player.)

How many close games do the Jazz lose because a stupid foul resulting from refusal to play D puts them into the penalty and the other team wins it at the stripe? Something to think about.

Now, let’s take a look at how willing Boozer was to sacrifice his body and take one for the team, aka offensive fouls (charges) drawn, and to a lesser extent, loose ball fouls drawn.

Your eyes are not deceiving you. Carlos Boozer, 6’9″, 266 lbs. power forward for the Utah Jazz, drew a grand total of five charges last season. The number of NBA players that drew more offensive fouls? 247.

Breakdown:

–DWill, our little tough little PG, ranked #1 on the Jazz in taking charges in 07-08. No wonder Jerry loves him so.

–JC, who ranked 9th in PT (logging only about 700 minutes, aka 2,300 minutes less than DWill) came in a close 2nd. Whoo hoo Collins!

–Then in succession, we have Korver, who joined the Jazz mid-way through the season;

– Harp, who was limited to under 18 min. per game for the first part of the season;

– Ronnie P, who only started getting into games regularly after the new year;

–followed by Sap, AK, Ronnie B, and Memo (all of whom played fewer minutes than Boozer);

–then Gira (yes, Gira!), who only played for the Jazz for 1.5 months before being banished for two weeks and was ultimately traded;

–CJ, who barely played;

– before we get to Carlos Boozer.

Hart drew one less charge than Booz, and Almond and Fess (Fess’ first NBA game vs. the Lakers excepted) were negligible as far as the season was concerned. AKA, if Boozer had taken one less charge, he would have tied with Hart for dead last.

How much more incontrovertible proof do nonbelievers (homers) need that Boozer runs away from physical contact?


What this says: Sap goes after the boards. Although Boozer is the one known as a “walking double double,” Sap drew way more loose ball fouls while playing 1,100 fewer minutes. Boozer tends to go after no-crowd/uncontested boards (e.g. the rebound after a missed free throw in which the other nine players are already halfway down the court) and/or boards where he has to go over someone’s back (as the loose ball fouls committed box above shows), while Sap fights for position and the ball.

Everyone above Boozer in this ranking played fewer minutes than him.

And while we’re on the topic, how about JC huh? He drew the second most offensive AND loose ball fouls on the Jazz–and he played 1,000 less minutes than Sap and 2,000 less than Booz. Come on now, the man knows what his strengths are, and what his role on the team is, and does exactly that. You’ve got to give him credit for that.

Boozer did draw the most shooting fouls among all Jazz players–but he took the most shots among all players by far (12 of the Jazz’ 15 players took 50% less shots than Boozer). On the other hand, he came in 4th in personal fouls drawn (less than 1/3 of DWill’s total output)–perhaps because he never plays very close to his man.

Another perspective on the physicality (or lack thereof) of Jazz players:

These are last season’s dunk statistics. (Source)

Of note: First of all, Brewer doubled Carlos’ dunk output despite playing significantly fewer minutes. Second, AK basically matched Carlos’ dunk output despite playing significantly fewer minutes AND spending much of his time out on the perimeter. Third, 11 SFs and 7 SGs had more dunks than Booz. Yes, I DO realize that dunks aren’t a measure of anything much. However, it does say something about a player’s aggressiveness and attitude towards taking it to the hole strong. By reputation (to non-Jazz fans), Booz is this banging, physical beast camped out in the trenches with an entire repertoire of down-low post moves. In reality, when he does get the ball down low, his first instinct and preference is to “finesse” lay it in rather than put it in with force a la Malone (I miss him. He looks like he could still play. Holla, Mailman).

*Some would say that AK is not strong enough to play PF against the likes of Duncan, Amare, etc. Well, I ask this: how many teams in the league outside of the ones that have “those guys” have the ability to guard those guys one-on-one?

**For those that are not convinced, how about PF by committee, i.e. splitting the minutes between AK and Sap? I think this arrangement could work beautifully because of the flexibility it gives the Jazz in terms of matchups, and I would also assert here that while Sap commits waaaaay too many fouls, they are not the result of him being lazy or lacking the physical ability to defend; I honestly believe that his fouls will go down as he gains more experience/ref respect.

And finally, based on the numbers above, Collins deserves a hand for his limited contributions in limited minutes. At least he’s doing something out there on D. And he’s not a chucker.

In conclusion–do I need to wrap this up?–Boozer’s physicalcontactphobia and shoddy “defense” subtract from his overall game and probably lose games for the Jazz, and I think AK or AKSap could do the job better. Certainly, games would be less frustrating to watch for fans like me.

Anyway, this is such a “not me” type of post, in that it includes statistics and is not a simple expression of my *feelings,* but I wanted to back up what I had to say.

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