8 Starting Centers Chris Bosh Has an Advantage over
Although Chris Bosh didn't have his finest performance in the Miami Heat's disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last night, his adjustment to the Center position has put the team in a better position to succeed.
Having played most of his career, both college and pro, at the PF position, Bosh struggled to produce the kind of numbers expected of him during the earlier stages of his tenure in Miami.
However, things changed when Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decided to put an end to the revolving-door at the center position and configured his roster to fit the team's strengths: speed and outside shooters to space the floor.
As a result, Miami was able to overcome a 3-2 deficit against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the NBA Finals, and find the third piece to their prized 2010 free-agent offseason in 2010 more integrated into the team's system than ever before.
Be that as it may, there will still come those nights when Bosh's meek 235-pound frame will pose a significant disadvantage for the Heat against some of the bigger teams in the league—such as the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers.
But, before you write off as a Heat disadvantage the center matchups they'll face in the future, remember that Bosh scored a team high 40 points two weeks ago against the Denver Nuggets, proving that his success at the tail end of the playoffs last season was no aberration.
In fact, you may be surprised at some of the starting centers in this league Bosh does have an advantage over.
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Meet Festus Ezeli.
He's a Libra. His likes are spaghetti, roller hockey and Netflix. His dislikes are free throws, All-Star ballots and the letter "W." In his free time, he likes to defend the paint.
At 6'11" and 255 Ibs., Ezeli should serve as a constant reminder to Heat fans imploring for a more natural center down low that sometimes, size really isn't the answer.
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Summary: For every knock-em-to-the-floor, garden-variety tough guy there is in the league, there are those Facebook-friendly European big men who are as proud to have Taylor Swift on their playlist as they are to represent the 0-1-1.
While boasting an impressive .92 free-throw percentage and steadily improving through the still-early stages on the season, Valanciunas is only beginning to learn how to grow his body—listed at 231—and game to suit the NBA level.
Now, perhaps against some of the beefier and slower big men in the league, Valanciunas will be able to use his speed and shooting to exploit some matchups. Against Bosh, however, he will have his hands full, guarding someone who, at this point, possesses a superior skill set from nearly every standpoint.
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Summary: After the James Harden trade and the ongoing growing pains that have continued to hinder the ever-changing Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs may have emerged, by default, as the most likely team to come out of the West this year.
If that's the case, then Miami won't have to worry about its lack of size coming back to haunt it when the stakes matter most.
At 6'8" and 235 Ibs., Diaw is among the hybrid big men in the league that makes up for his size in the middle with crafty passing and scoring.
Nevertheless, there is no reason to assume Bosh won't have every advantage in this matchup given his superior scoring and rebounding abilities.
Now, sure, there is always the Tim Duncan factor. But at this stage of his career, you'd figure that LeBron's athleticism and defensive prowess will more than make up for Miami's lack of size in that matchup.
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Summary: Vucevic actually happens to be one of the better centers in the league, averaging 11 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes of play. But the second-year big man is far from polished, averaging three personal fouls a game and lacking the kind of post presence that allows the Magic to take advantage of their outside shooting.
Looking beyond statistics, the real topic of conversation here starts off with the drop-off at center from Dwight Howard to Vucevic.
Once upon a time, the Magic not only served as an Eastern Conference dark horse, but a Southeast contender as well due to their overwhelming advantage at the center position.
However, now that Howard is in Los Angeles and the next best big man in the East will be out until January, Bosh's numbers at center stack up as well as anyone's in the conference.
And for at least the next two seasons, the Miami Heat will have the fortune of knowing that they have the best center in the state of Florida.
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Summary: It must be tough to be Robin Lopez, On the one hand, he isn't as good as his brother Brook Lopez, the starting center for the Nets. On the other, he isn't as good as his doppleangler, Anderson Varejao, the starting center of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
And, just to add insult to injury, his biggest accomplishment, to date as a professional athlete is being the real life version of Sideshow Bob—who is played by Kelsey Grammar.
Here's the good news, though: Between his hair and Anthony Davis' unibrow, the Hornets are one bearded woman away from being a three-ring circus act.
Their first trick? Trying to watch Robin Lopez make a free throw.
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Summary: Way back when, Perkins made the Boston Celtics a juggernaut because of his tenacious defense and rebounding.
Now, on a team limited with scorers, he is an offensive liability who allowed Miami to focus its defense on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Averaging an unimpressive 4.8 points and rebounds a game, Perkins is a big body who is too slow to keep up with the shiftier Bosh.
In addition, trying to guard Bosh's jump shot will force him out the paint, which is where he often does his best work.
All in all, people don't realize how devastating Miami's advantage was at center in the playoffs last year because of how great LeBron was.
But because Perkins offered as much of a threat on offense as Joel Anthony would have, Bosh was able to focus much of his energy last year on offense and help defense.
By the way, his onerous contract is also one of the more underrated reasons why the Thunder weren't able to pay James Harden the max.
Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.
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Summary: JaVale McGee may be a creative dunker, but he certainly didn't prove himself to be an effective center after Chris Bosh dropped 40 on him when the Nuggets visited Miami not long ago.
Tonight, in the Heat's rematch against the Nuggets, McGee will surely look to vindicate himself with a stronger defensive performance against Bosh.
But, at 7'0" and 252 Ibs., McGee is a shining example of why Miami ultimately decided to move Chris Bosh to center, because there are so few skilled legitimate big men in the league.
As a result, smaller big men are more in demand, offering more to teams on offense than what natural-sized big men used to offer teams back in the day on defense.
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Summary: Let's just call a spade a spade. The Eastern Conference Finals flipped upside down when LeBron James took command of the series and Chris Bosh took command of the post.
For years, Garnett had been a thorn for both Chris Bosh and Miami. But after Heat fans began to question Bosh's value to the team after Miami eliminated the Indiana Pacers without him, he responded by thriving in the Eastern Conference Finals against Garnett.
Furthermore, he continued the cycle into this season, scoring 19 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in the Heat's opener against the Boston Celtics on October 30.
At 28, Bosh is eight years younger than the Celtics big man, and he finally appears to be coming into his own on a team that is taking full advantage of his shooting and ability to play an up-tempo game.
Meanwhile, with Garnett''s health a constant question mark along with the collective youth and inexperience of the Celtics' remaining big men, Chris Bosh may actually be the biggest reason why the Heat stand head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern conference.
Sort of ironic, considering that the biggest knock on him throughout his career is that he's too small.