What Chris Bosh Bulking Up to Play Center Means for Miami Heat
We all know by now that good things can come out of trying times, and head coach Erik Spoelstra knows it as well as anyone.
Describing a successful title run as a "trying time" might sound like a stretch, but bear in mind that the Miami Heat spent the better parts of the conference semifinals and finals playing without Chris Bosh.
Spoelstra took something away from that experience, something more than platitudes about his team's resilience and determination. He realized that LeBron James was even more dangerous playing at the 4 than he was at the 3.
Of course, he already knew that the starting lineup's glaring weakness was at center, where Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf took turns just trying not to mess up.
The solution? Leave James at power forward and make Bosh the center.
The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reports that Bosh is preparing for just that:
Chris Bosh is adding bulk (six pounds of lean muscle) to prepare for the rigors of playing a full season at center....
The weight change hardly qualifies as a radical transformation, but it's an important step toward enduring the physical pounding he'll face against bigger competition.
Don't feel too badly for Bosh, though. He'll be more physically tested on the defensive end, but he'll also have it a lot easier on offense.
Bosh's quickness will pay more dividends against comparatively less-mobile seven-footers, and his ability to score from mid-range will force opposing bigs to make a difficult choice between leaving the paint and leaving him open.
How successful will Miami's new
That strategy was successful enough to earn Bosh 18 points per game last season, so you can imagine how much more effective it will be against shot-blockers who are reluctant to leave the basket.
It's not really that Bosh is adding a new dimension to his game. He'll just be better positioned to exploit his quickness and range against favorable matchups.
That's good news for the Heat, and it's not the only good news.
It also means that James similarly will have the opportunity to outrun, outmaneuver and outgun guys who can't keep up with his athleticism. Because LeBron has the strength and length to hold his own against bigger players on the defensive end, some teams will be reluctant to go small and ultimately pay the price when James drives around their power forwards.
If they do go small, James can out-muscle the vast majority of small forwards attempting to guard him and dominate in the paint.
The choice between mismatches is a choice between the lesser of evils for Miami's opposition, but that doesn't mean either is especially appealing.
The new lineup also means more playing time for Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen.
That means the Heat consistently will have good shooters on the floor, and it also means they will have their best all-around players on the floor. The Heat are much deeper on the wing than they are at the center position, so sliding everyone over a spot just means all those forwards and guards will get more minutes than Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman.
Heat fans won't be shedding any tears about that.
The rest of the league might be, though.
Spoelstra essentially is putting his team in a position to make the most of its biggest comparative advantage: its athleticism and shooting ability. This rotation isn't at its best in half-court sets, and it's not going make its living on offensive rebounds or having big men post up.
Rather than bend over backwards to turn the roster into something it isn't, the Heat are just learning to do more with the roster they do have. That's a scary thought, because they were already doing quite a bit with that roster.
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