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The Most Important Miami Heat Star Not Named LeBron James

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The Most Important Miami Heat Star Not Named LeBron James
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

When Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh first teamed up for the Miami Heat in 2010, it was unclear who would take over as the team's main star.

It's now safe to say that question has been definitively answered.

Next to LeBron, who do the Heat really need the most?

While the loyalest of Heat fans may scream for Wade, a strong argument could be made for Bosh.

This isn't a question of who the better overall player is, but rather who's play is more important to the Heat's current success.

The case for Bosh can be broken down into a few simple points.

First is the matter of position.

Bosh is a natural power forward who has seen time at center for Miami and will likely see the bulk of his minutes at the 5-position.  While Bosh is a bit undersized (6'11", 235 pounds) for a center, the Heat simply don't have any better options.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

According to 82games.com, other Heat big men Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman and Udonis Haslem actually allowed a higher PER to the players they defended than what they registered themselves.

Bosh (19.3 PER, 14.1 PER allowed) was the only Heat power forward or center who actually registered a positive player efficiency rating difference.

After Bosh's 18.0 points per game last season, the highest Heat post scorer was Haslem with a measly 6.0 per contest.

The Heat are miserably thin behind Bosh at the post but actually have some talent behind Wade at guard.

The main weapon that can step in for Wade is newly signed Ray Allen.

Allen, the NBA's all-time leader in three-pointers made, shot a career-high 45.3 percent from deep last season at the age of 37.

His 14.2 points per game were more than Anthony, Pittman and Haslem scored for the Heat combined.

Allen also had a positive PER difference (15.1 to 10.3), something none of the Heat's other big men could muster.

If Wade were to miss time, Allen could step in and do an admiral job, something Miami couldn't count on from their backup bigs.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Speaking of Wade missing time, let's look back to last season.

Wade missed 17 games last season with various injuries.  If you take out the last two games of the regular season when Miami was resting its starters, the Heat were 14-1 in games Wade didn't play.

This 14-1 record correlates to a 93 percent winning clip.  In the 49 games Wade did play in, the Heat were only 32-17 for a winning percentage of 65 percent.

Not to say Miami is a better basketball team without Wade, but it proved it can get by for large stretches just fine without him.

Having Bosh out hurt the Heat tremendously, however.

Nowhere was this more clear than the playoffs.  Suffering an abdominal strain in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers, the Heat struggled against the Pacers size.

Miami, after winning Game 1 with Bosh, dropped the next two games and looked like it could be headed for an early playoff exit.

Besides James, who is more important to the Heat?

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The Heat did manage to recover from their 2-1 series hole, but ran into more problems against the Boston Celtics with Bosh still out.

In Games 3, 4 and 5, all Heat losses, Bosh played a grand total of 14 minutes off the bench registering only nine points.

In Games 6 and 7, both Heat wins, Bosh played 59 total minutes and helped Miami bounce back from a 4-3 game deficit to win the series.

For the entire playoff championship run, Miami was 16-3 in games where Bosh even stepped on the court.  In games he missed, the Heat were just 5-4.

LeBron James is the unquestioned leader and most valuable player on the Miami Heat, but it's also clear who their second-most important player is.

Chris Bosh may not be the Heat's second-best overall player, but no one is more important to Miami after James than Bosh.

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