Boozer says Rose is going to be the league’s best


Oct 27

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Carlos Boozer took his all too familiar spot Wednesday morning at the Bulls last shootaround practice before the opening of the regular season, watching his teammates.

Boozer has his own opener of sorts coming Tuesday when he gets his hard cast off his broken right hand and the pins removed so he gets ready to begin his rehabilitation process that, hopefully, gets him back playing by the beginning of December.

“I’m excited about that,” said Boozer, wearing a baby blue cast as he amuses himself these days by changing colors. Boozer joked he was wearing the Thunder colors to try to distract them

“They’ll take the pins out and put me in a soft cast and maybe four to five days I can begin to attack my rehab,” Boozer said. “I’m going to work my butt off. I’ve been able to stay in shape (by) lifting and doing conditioning.”

But mostly he’s had to watch, and in watching carefully Boozer saw something he wasn’t surprised about, that the Bulls could be a very good team.

“I always felt good about the prospects of the team,” Boozer said. “That’s why I signed here.”

And something he didn’t quite expect.

“By the end of this season, DRose,” Boozer declared, “is going to be the best point guard in the league.”

Now, we know players tend to gush about their new teammates, whether serious or not, but this is a player who just finished a long run with the point guard generally regarded as the best in the league now, the Jazz’ Deron Williams.

“No, Deron is really good,” Boozer was saying. “But DRose…

“I didn’t know how good he was,” Boozer marveled. “I’d seen him like everyone, but when I came here you hear he couldn’t shoot. He can shoot. And how fast this guy is. You see the speed and think back to (Allen) Iverson. I don’t think there’s anyone faster, and then there’s the explosion. There’s no one like that (for point guards). And then you see how hard he works and how serious he is. And now he’s got more guys to work with, to pass to.”

As Boozer chatted with a few reporters by the end line under the basket, he kept his eyes fixed on Rose shooting just before the team was set to begin its final workout before playing the Thunder Wednesday night on national TV. A little smile seemed to crease Boozer’s face.

“I’m telling you,” Boozer said again, “by the end of the season he’s going to be the best.”

It’s still another reason why Boozer says he’s so anxious to get going.

The truth is it’s likely to be a rough stretch for the next month with Boozer out. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, less interested than everyone in his first game as an official NBA head coach and with best friend Jeff Van Gundy doing the game, talked more before the practice began about the much anticipated Celtics/Heat game Tuesday night.

Everyone wanted to break down the LeBron/Wade/Bosh debut, though you could see a quiet pride in Thibodeau having seen the defense he molded shut out the Heat for most of the game, at least in NBA terms. It was practically the NBA version of Christy Mathewson pitching three shutouts in the 1905 World Series.

“They came out ready to play,” Thibodeau beamed.

Boozer, like Rose, isn’t much of a game watcher and said he only watched the first half of the Celtics/Heat game and then none of the later Lakers/Rockets game. But he said he wanted to make a point to see the first half of the premier game, though not to watch the Heat.

He said he wanted to watch the Celtics defense and relate that to what Thibodeau talks about daily and what this Bulls team can become.

“We hear coach talk of how our defense has to get to another level,” noted Boozer. “You watch what Boston did last night and that’s what he envisions for us. To give that attention to keeping guys out of the paint, make guys take contested, tough shots, have guys turn the ball over so we can capitalize. The way Boston plays defense is what we’re trying to get to.

“They play defense at a championship level,” said Boozer. “If we’re going to be champions, we’re going to have to do things at a championship level. That’s why I watched that first half. To see the way Boston was connected on defense. That’s what Thibs is teaching us now. Boston is very connected on the defensive end, and we are headed in that direction.”

Actually, without Boozer for about the first month of the season, that’s the Bulls best hope of surviving with the competitive record in a road heavy schedule against high level teams.

Boozer said everything remains on schedule in his treatment and the doctors say the healing is proceeding well. Boozer said he has his own personal date circled for a return, but he doesn’t want to share that as yet.

Boozer said he intends to travel with the team throughout his recovery and rehabilitation to continue bonding.

“I like being with the guys,” Boozer said, “building team chemistry when you’re on the road. You don’t see many Bulls jerseys then. That’s when you grow as a group and you want to be part of that.”

Boozer admits he was talking with teammates coming into the arena Wednesday morning about how difficult it will be to watch the opener.

“I’ll be cheering my teammates on, being a good assistant coach, a good teammate,” Boozer said. “But it’s going to be very tough not putting that jersey on.”

For the team as well. But Boozer feels the best is to come because he says what he’s seen so far has been even more eye opening than he thought it would be. And not that he doubted it before, but he feels very good about the Bulls future.

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