Since the coming together of the Big Three, Bosh has long been viewed as the ugly step child in comparison to his superstar teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Bosh was frequently accused of being “soft” and never garnered the respect that James and Wade got.
That all changed when Bosh went down with an injury and the Heat fell into a 2-1 hole against the Indiana Pacers in the East semifinals. With the team on the verge of collapsing, it took a historic effort from James and Wade to save Miami from disaster. Still, the Heat would need Bosh’s return in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to ultimately propel them to a championship.
While people accused Bosh for seemingly anything and everything over the past two seasons, the big man’s teammates, coaches and Miami front office all knew just how important he was to the Heat and their system.
After Bosh’s superstar performance in the NBA Finals and with his worth finally being universally recognized, Bosh is on the precipice of a career year. Here are the reasons why.
With Chris Bosh finally embracing the full-time switch to center, he will thrive in this role. He is one of the very few true big men on the Heat’s roster, and just one of two that is 6’11” or taller (Dexter Pittman).
Bosh was forced to be Miami’s center in last season’s NBA Finals and came up big, posting 15.8 points and 10.5 rebounds in four games as a starter (Bosh came off the bench in Game 1).
Bosh has the unique aspect of being a jump-shooting center, meaning he will be able to draw opposing centers way out of their comfort zones in order to guard him. Bosh will create matchup problems night in and night out, while also creating lanes for Wade and James to drive to the hole.
Now that he’s accepted his role as the center, or the version of a center in the Heat’s “position-less” basketball, he is ready to have a breakout year.
While I’m against the seemingly growing amount of Dwyane Wade doubters, who call him an “old 30”, I know that Wade and Bosh are beginning to even out on the Heat’s superstar hierarchy.
Wade’s rather pedestrian (for Dwyane Wade standards) playoff performance and Bosh’s emergence gives Bosh a bigger role in the offense, as he proved that it’s necessary for him to get more touches each game.
Wade will certainly still be the No. 2 guy, but even if Bosh gets a small amount of additional possessions per game, it will make a difference. Also, Bosh will have ample opportunities of getting touches in the paint as the Heat lack a true post scorer, and will want to utilize Bosh down low.
With Bosh a legitimate No. 2 option, especially if Wade is hampered by his offseason knee issues, Bosh could be poised for a career year. It wasn't a fluke that Bosh's statistics increased dramatically when Wade missed games last season.
As much as he can say it didn’t affect him, Bosh had to feel some of the heat from all the criticism he received in the past. Now that he is legitimately respected as an integral part of the Heat’s success, he doesn’t have to worry about what people are saying about him.
The Heat and Bosh have the monkey of winning a ring off their back. Bosh’s outstanding performance in the playoffs will also boost his confidence as he is now a championship center. The ring, plus added confidence, will certainly lead him towards a career year.
While Bosh always had spectacular range for a guy of his size, Bosh displayed his three-point touch in Miami’s Game 7 clincher over the Boston Celtics, shooting three-of-four from the perimeter to help the Heat reach the Finals.
All in all, Bosh shot an impressive seven-for-13 from the three-point line in last year’s postseason, and it really added a new dimension to his game.
Bosh worked on his three-point shooting in the offseason and is reportedly much improved. How many 6'11" guys can shoot from distance like Bosh can? He will be able to create so much havoc if guys like Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Marc Gasol are forced to leave the paint to prevent him from getting distance shots.
With the ability to shoot the long ball more consistently, Bosh can only be headed for a monster year.
Bosh is a markedly better defender than he was in his Toronto days. While it may not show up on the stat sheet, Bosh is great at altering shots in the paint and is quick on his feet, enabling him to have solid off-the-ball defense.
During the nine games Bosh missed in last year’s playoffs, Miami allowed 91.7 points per game. With him on the floor, the Heat only gave up 89.1 points per game.
While he will certainly face tough assignments against the likes of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum, he will be able to hold his own. Even if he isn’t able to efficiently guard elite centers, he benefits from the fact that there really aren’t many elite centers in the NBA anymore.
Additionally, the Heat provide great help defense, so if Bosh gets in a jam, LeBron can always swoop in to assist, as he is well known for his ability to guard all five positions on the floor.
While preseason may not mean anything in terms of how good a player or team will do in the coming season, there is no way that Bosh's preseason performance meant absolutely nothing.
Bosh led the Heat in the preseason with 15.8 points per game, which was good enough for fourth best among other forwards in preseason.
Bosh also led the Heat in field-goal percentage (.551) and rebounds (43) during preseason basketball, as the big man seemed to look very comfortable in his third year with Miami.
This is a tribute to his hard work in the offseason, where he elected to miss the Olympics to heal his body and improve his game. That proved to be a wise decision, as he put in the time during training camp and vowed to James and Wade that he would shoulder more of the load this season.
Bosh knew where to find his shots and where he would be utilized and the ball got to him during the preseason, contributing to his strong showing. There is no reason to believe that won't happen during the regular season as well.
The numbers show that Chris Bosh is very effective while playing the "center" for the Heat.
According to HoopStats.com, Bosh averaged nine boards and 1.1 blocks per game as a center last season, compared to 7.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game as a power forward.
While it's definitely a small sample size, it's clear that Bosh can do his finest work when he's the primary big man and not just kick out option for LeBron or Wade.
Instead of Bosh floating around the wing looking for his 15-foot jumper, he will be getting the ball in the paint and using his finesse to score down low. He will have ample opportunities down low as James and Wade are stellar passes who will look for him on the block.
There won't be as much pressure on them to always be getting in the lane as they have a reliable big man who can score. And if Bosh can't get a shot off, he has the luxury of passing to Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier or Mike Miller to knock down three-pointers.
Simply put, it's Chris Bosh's time. The Heat are done trying to figure out how to use the Big Three and how the ball should be shared between three All-Stars.
Coach Spoelstra finally found an effective system for the Heat last season with the position-less basketball.
Bosh has been a huge proponent of that system, and he fully embraces the switch to center because he’s not going to be playing as a traditional center. Bosh is more of a hybrid power forward that has an advantage on mostly everyone that will be guarding him this season. On most nights, Bosh is the quickest big man on the floor, and his lethal jump shot allows him to stretch defenses.
Since Bosh not only trusts Spoelstra’s system, but has seen it successfully work as well, he has a greater chance to flourish in the role. Bosh is an excellent team player, and happy in his current position, which will only help him in having a career year.