Who’s Better: Carlos Boozer or David West?

02.16.11 7 years ago 14 Comments

Carlos Boozer (photo. Jeff Salter)

We argue. You decide.

Carlos Boozer is a beast. Attitude; toughness; well-manicured beard; he has it all. Say what you will about his injury problems and his “conniving” ways (refer to Cavs ’04), the dude can flat-out play. Having been groomed by arguably the best two coaches in basketball history for the majority of his career — Mike Krzyzewski with Duke/USA Basketball, Jerry Sloan in Utah — Boozer was molded into the disciplined, hard-nosed, high-IQ player he is today.

If winning means everything, than David West can take a backseat to Carlos Boozer’s career achievements: A national championship with Duke in 2001, Olympic gold in 2008, and 44 career playoff games with the Jazz is more than enough to trump West’s regular season game-winners and couple of All-Star nods.

Boozer is the archetype power forward for the NBA, what Dolph Lundgren was for the U.S. Army in Universal Soldier; versatile and unrelenting. At 6-9, 266 pounds, he can play low-post and high-post with great efficiency on the block, not to mention having the unique ability to finish with both hands. Whereas David West lacks a post-up game and is too reliant on his jumpers — seemingly glued to that spot at the top of the key — Booz has a more well-rounded game, with a sweet baby hook and mid-range fadeaway in his arsenal. Probably his most underrated asset, though, is his passing ability for a big man, which he developed early on at Duke and continues to utilize with the Bulls. Furthermore, Boozer moves well on offense with or without the ball, which creates more options for his teammates and more ways to score for himself. West, not so much.

They have both been privileged to play alongside the game’s elite point guards for most of their careers, though Boozer’s transition and pick-and-roll game is far superior to West’s. Being a great decision maker and having terrific hands translates to easy buckets for the Alaska native, whereas the Chris Paul-to-West connection, though effective, seems to produce too many long twos for my liking. It’s hard to imagine that Boozer, with a point guard (Derrick Rose) that shoots 20 shots a game and a Bulls squad swimming with offensive potency, is still able to put up a respectable 19.4 points per game on 54.3% shooting from the field. West, the hands-down No. 2 option on his team, needs all the help he can get from CP3 just to put up comparable numbers, albeit at a worse shooting percentage.

For those haters who predicted a significant drop-off in Boozer’s rebounds after leaving the Jazz, he is still putting up double-digit numbers in the category, which is more than I can say for West, who doesn’t even crack eight boards a night. While none of these guys are known for their tenacious D, Booz is more of a defensive presence than West and his extra length and athleticism provides greater protection around the rim. I do also have to add that West’s demand for Kobe treatment in terms of foul calls and his holier-than-thou demeanor have me cringing every time I watch the Hornets.

While neither of these guys will be a No. 1 option for most teams, I would rather have Carlos Boozer as my No. 2 guy any day.

When looking at the greatest power forwards of all time, their team’s identity usually reflects their style of play. Karl Malone led the way for the blue-collar, hard-working Jazz of the ’80s and ’90s. Dennis Rodman was the defensive-minded enforcer (well, one of the enforcers) on the “Bad Boy” Pistons during his time in Detroit. The Spurs’ selfless, intelligent play of the modern era is directly correlated to Tim Duncan.

To play the four spot in the League, there is a lot of toughness needed to fill the role. Carlos Boozer and David West are two players who fill the position quite well. They both put up good numbers and have been selected to the All-Star Game on a couple of occasions each. You can’t go wrong either way, but if faced with the choice of these two stars to fill your four spot, David West is the man for the job.

There is no arguing that Boozer is injury-prone. After signing him for $80 million, the Chicago faithful had to wait over a month before he finally suited up. West is more dependable, plan and simple. Over the last three seasons, West has only missed 14 games total. Boozer has missed more than that this season alone.

Although their numbers may suggest Boozer is the better player to have, West bring versatile skills that Boozer does not. Boozer is pretty effective with his jumper, but we know it’s not his bread and butter. He does a lot of his dirty work in the post, as he is taking 40% of his shot attempts from close range. Boozer’s play often clogs the lane and prevents a few opportunities for his superstar point guards. West gets most of his buckets from mid-range. West is excellent at making himself a great target for his teammates when they are in trouble. West spreads the floor and allows his point guards to do what they do best. With that being said, don’t think West is a spot-up specialist. Mr. West has polished skills on the block that he displays on inferior bigs. West’s inside-outside skill set offers more than Boozer’s bully-style offensive game.

Although he plays with arguably the best point guard in the world in Chris Paul, West is better at creating for himself than Boozer (who plays with a pretty good PG himself in Derrick Rose). One underrated skill of David West is his ball-handling ability. When needed, he uses this skill to make things happen. There is no better example than the Thunder/Hornets game on Jan. 24. After taking over the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, West again got the rock on New Orleans’ final possession when they were down by one and CP3 was hampered by an ankle injury. West took it from the top of the key, created space and knocked down the game-winner. Boozer just doesn’t have the handle to do the same.

All in all, both are great players. Boozer has the better numbers, but West just has a lot more to bring to the table.

Who do you think is better?

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