Points in the Paint
By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Utah Jazz starting forward Carlos Boozer
is playing like and All-Star this season.
The 23-year-old Boozer, who is in his first year with the Jazz, is having the
best season of his three-year career. He has started Utah’s first 40 games
this season and leads the team in scoring (19.2 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg).
Boozer has become the top player on a team that has been hurt by a knee injury
to All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko.
Originally selected out of Duke by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round
(35th pick overall) in the 2002 NBA Draft, Boozer has increased his scoring
production in each of his three seasons in the league. During his rookie
campaign, Boozer played in 81 games for Cleveland and averaged 10 points and
7.5 rebounds in just over 25 minutes of action. The 2003-04 season saw the
Duke product establish himself as a legitimate force, as he started all 75
games that he appeared in and finished with averages of 15.5 points and 11.4
boards in almost 35 minutes of court time per contest.
On July 30, 2004, Boozer, who was a restricted free agent, officially became
a member of the Jazz. Boozer’s signing created a lot of controversy, as he was
rumored to have made a commitment to Cleveland to sign a long-term contract
with the Cavaliers if they allowed him to become a free agent. Cleveland
declined to match the offer and let Boozer join Utah.
The Duke product has given the Jazz a steady player who comes to play every
night. Even though he is just a 6-8 power forward, Boozer is able to compete
against the other top players at his position. When the Jazz need a basket,
Boozer has become their go-to guy.
Boozer has scored in double-digits in 35 of Utah’s 40 games and has registered
20 or more points 18 times so far this season. He has recorded 19 double-
doubles and has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 20 contests.
Last season, Boozer played next to LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas in
Cleveland and was the Cavaliers’ second and sometimes third option on offense.
By signing with the Jazz, the three-year veteran knew that he was going to
have a lot more touches on the offensive end and that he would shoulder a much
bigger load than he was used to. Utah has not been disappointed by the
With Boozer, the Jazz have young forward who is going to continue to get
better. He still needs to work on his outsider jumper and could use some work
on defensive skills. However, Utah has a player that wants to continue to
learn and improve to the point that he becomes a familiar participant in All-
Star Games and postseason contests.
It will be very difficult for Boozer to get on to the Western Conference All-
Star team. His competition at forward consists of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett,
Dirk Nowitzki and Amare Stoudemire. The problem here is that all four of the
above players play the same position as Boozer, and it is very likely that
Duncan and Garnett will both be awarded a spot because of fan voting. Boozer,
Duncan, Garnett, Nowitzki and Stoudemire all deserve to be All-Stars, even if
it means that the West has to carry a surplus of power forwards.
Boozer has proven that he is one of the top players in the league at his
position. When opposing coaches see the Jazz on their schedule they try and
draw up a game plan that will contain Boozer and force the other Utah players
to beat them.
The Duke product has earned the respect of coaches and players around the
league. The time has come for Boozer to take the next step and for him to be
awarded a spot on the Western Conference’s roster for February 20th’s All-
Star Game, which will be played at the Pepsi Center.