There is no question that Derrick Rose is the primary option for the Chicago Bulls and their offense. However, during the early part of the season, the role of second scorer was up in the air. Once Carlos Boozer returned from injury, he quickly became the second option for the Bulls.
Chicago likes to take advantage of Boozer and his offensive ability in the post, posting him up on 29.7 percent of his total offensive possessions, the 19th-highest percentage in the NBA. There is a reason why the Bulls do this: he is pretty efficient with his back to the basket. So far this season, Boozer has scored 0.89 points per possession in those situations, which is 38th in the entire NBA among players with at least 50 post up possessions. He also shoots 49.4 percent, which is 27th in the entire NBA.
One of the reasons Boozer is so successful is because the Bulls have a number of creative sets in addition to just a straight post up to get Boozer the basketball in the post. Today, I am going to take a look at five different sets that the Bulls like to run to get Boozer the ball on the block with his man on his back.
The Chicago Bulls like to use simple cross screens the most to get Boozer the ball on the block. Here is the most common set that they run to incorporate the cross screens.
As the point guard brings the basketball up the court, a pindown screen is set for the shooting guard/small forward (in this case, Kyle Korver). Korver uses the screen and gets the basketball on the wing.
After Korver comes clear of the screen, the man setting the pindown now comes across the lane to set a cross screen for Boozer.
Korver gets the basketball to Boozer in the post as Foster finally gets to him. Korver and the cross-screener clear out, allowing Boozer to work in the post. Here is the play in real time:
This play works because it keeps Boozer's defender off of his back until he makes the catch. While fighting for position, defenders are allowed to lean on post up players or push them. Basically, anything goes. But once the post player gets the basketball, that all changes. Here, Boozer makes the catch, Foster can't push him away from the basket and Boozer is allowed to pivot easily, face up and knock down the jumper.
Here, DeJuan Blair is covering Boozer in the post. The cross screen is set, and since Blair is unable to get his body on Boozer, he gambles, trying to get the steal. He misses and Boozer is able to get an easy bucket.
Another thing I like about this set is that it can be turned into a SLOB play (this will be a running theme). SLOB means sideline out of bounds, and it doesn't require a lot of effort or changes to run it from a sideline inbounds pass (instead of bringing the ball up from the backcourt)
Screen For Shooter The Post
Another thing that the Bulls like to do is use the threat of a shooter to allow Boozer to get terrific position on the block.
The set starts with Derrick Rose bringing the ball up along the side. Both Boozer and Kurt Thomas set up on the weakside, both setting a screen for Korver as he curls around them. As this happens, Rose gets a simple ball screen to help occupy the defense.
As soon as Korver curls off of the screen, Boozer immediately dives to block. Rose gets the ball to Korver out around the three-point line.
Because the defense needs to respect Korver's shooting ability, his defender needs to be up on him. This creates the space to get an entry pass into Boozer. Here is the play in real time:
This is a great example of a misdirection play. It looks like the Bulls are running a play to get Korver an open shot on the wing, but by the time the Bulls show their hand, Boozer already has post position on his defender.
Here it is again. You have the ballscreen occupying the defense as Keith Bogans comes off of a double screen. Boozer posts and gets the ball in very deep position. It is such great position that Boozer is able to repost and get a basket.
Screen To Staggered
The next play that we are going to look at is a play that uses Boozer as a screener initially, then has him coming off of a off-ball screen, taking him right to the post.
The play starts with Rose bringing the basketball down along the sideline and then taking it to the middle to use a Boozer screen.
Rose continues to the opposite side of the court as Boozer goes from setting his screen to getting a staggered backscreen, taking him right to the block.
Rose brings the ball to the wing and enters it to Boozer right on the block. Here is the play in real time.
This is another play designed to get Boozer on the move, keeping his defender from getting on his back and pushing him out of the lane. This allows Boozer to establish terrific position, where he is able to make his move.
Here it is again. On this particular set, there is a lot of movement off the ball after Boozer makes his catch, preventing a double team. Gibson sets a screen for Korver after Korver sets his screen. Again, because of Korver's shooting ability, the defense needs to watch that, which prevents them from sending a double team.
Just like the first set we looked at, this too can be run from the sideline. This time, instead of setting a screen, Boozer is the trigger man, inbounding the basketball and then using the staggered screen to get the ball on the block.
The final set we are going to look at today is one that looks like it is going to be a set for Rose, but instead is a set to get Boozer the ball in the post.
As Rose brings the basketball up, he enters it to Korver on the wing. After making his pass, Rose comes off of the backscreen set by Boozer.
After getting to the block, Rose quickly turns around and sets a backscreen of his own for Boozer. Boozer uses it to get to the ball-side block and post up.
Boozer makes the catch and quickly turns baseline and gets an easy look at the rim. Here is the play in real time:
What this play does is it gets the defense playing over the top on Boozer as he makes his catch. This is basically inviting him to turn baseline (which he does), and he is able to get to the rim easily with no help.
Here, Boozer is able to use this set to get position on Chuck Hayes. Hayes is probably much stronger than Boozer, but because he had to fight through a backscreen, Boozer is able to dictate the position and determine where he wants to get the basketball.
Just like the above plays, we get to see this one as a sideline out of bounds set. With this one, Rose gets the ball, brings it over to Boozer's side and gets into the set.
I really like what the Bulls do with Boozer. By getting him on the move, they not only take advantage of his quick feet on the offensive end, but they give him a chance to get the ball on the block, where normally he would be pushed way too far out. While most of Boozer's success on the block this year has to do with his ability to both face up and work with his back to the basket, some of it has to do with the Bulls and their creative playcalling.