Top 50 NBA Players: #25 Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh
Resume: 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 33.2 minutes, 54% FG (career best), and 80% FT… Team record in games played: 58-16 (8-0 without)… Playoffs: 12.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 1.6 blocks, 32.7 minutes, 46% FG, 41% 3PT, 73% FT, 16-7 record… All-Star

I’m running the risk of dropping Chris Bosh from #20 to #25, a development that might result in my mom going Eminem style Berzerk and not cooking me my favorite meals when I come home to visit from school. Last year I made the argument that even though Bosh’s numbers had declined from the prior season, that wasn’t a legitimate reason to leave him out of the Top 20. A year later Bosh finds himself on the outside of the Top 20 looking in at the other two-thirds of Miami’s Big Three, and six players who I didn’t have in the Top 20 last year.

Jun 16, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) defends Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) during the third quarter of game five in the 2013 NBA Finals at the AT

Let’s get one thing straight before I go any further. I’m well aware of how essential Chris Bosh is to the Miami Heat. Even if I never watched a Heat game, I’d hear it from the media and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra enough to comprehend that this Bosh fella is pretty important. He’s the linchpin of what the Heat do offensively and defensively. His ability to guard opposing centers, protect the rim, AND fly around the floor as a part of Miami’s hectic defensive scheme is nothing short of incredible. And even though he goes through stretches where he takes far too many three’s, the threat of Bosh, a de facto center, being able to knock down jump shots with guard-like precision—Bosh shot 53% from 16-24 feet out this season; in comparison, LeBron shot 45% from that range, and Wade shot 42%— help to make Miami’s offense a well-oiled machine. He’s a uniquely talented offensive player who rarely gets a chance to showcase his little known scoring arsenal. Miami’s position-less and post-player-less offense has turned Bosh into strictly a jump shooter, seldom allowing fans to see how crafty he is making moves going towards the basket. The only times we see that is when he hits an unassuming defender with a shot fake that has to be respected because of his shooting ability.

(I wonder if that’s enough complimentary stuff about Bosh to earn myself some of my mom’s chicken parm…)

You know what? I’ll voluntarily keep going with the Bosh praise because everyone knows the downside to Bosh. He takes too many three’s at times. He’s been labeled soft and his shoddy rebounding numbers are a concern. He disappeared in a number of playoff games this year—his four game 7 point and 5 rebound per game stretch in the Indiana series did not help his cause—and was badly outplayed by Roy Hibbert and Tim Duncan in back to back rounds. Still, all of the negatives don’t offset all of the contributions Bosh brings to the table.  Take for example one of the biggest plays in Miami’s postseason run.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals: With 2.2 seconds left and Miami trailing by 1, Miami inbounded the ball, LeBron made a quick move to the basket, left handed layup good, game over. Was it really that easy? In a way, yes. LeBron was able to get an uncontested layup at the buzzer because there was no rim protection whatsoever. Why was that? Roy Hibbert was not on the floor out of respect for Chris Bosh. Watch the play if you don’t remember it or haven’t already. Check out how late Lance Stephenson’s rotation is away from Bosh. Even in that short amount of time he didn’t want to leave Bosh open for a mid-range jumper. With Hibbert on the floor instead of Hansbrough you’re adding a rim protector, but you’re losing speed on the perimeter to be able to make the switch that Hansbrough and Stephenson made. You see the problem Bosh creates?

A few weeks later Gregg Popovich would find himself in a somewhat similar situation. He decided to sit Tim Duncan down the stretch in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. After LeBron missed a potential game-tying three, in a matter of 1.5 seconds Bosh grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Ray Allen. The rest was history.