Chris Bosh Finally Used Efficiently by Miami Heat

Jared DubinFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 17:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat puts up a shot over Marcin Gortat #4 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on November 17, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Heat defeated the Suns 97-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It’s taken a while, but it appears the Miami Heat have finally figured out the best way to use Chris Bosh on offense.

The lanky power forward turned center is enjoying the most efficient offensive season of his career, averaging 18.6 points on only 12.4 shots per game, with a career-high true shooting percentage (which adjusts for three-pointers and free throws) of 61.8 as of Monday.

What the Heat have done is turn Bosh into a player who is almost strictly a finisher. In his last season in Toronto, Bosh was assisted on just 49.8 percent of his baskets, according to HoopData.

Since coming to Miami, that percentage has steadily risen with each passing season, starting at 59.9 percent in 2010-11, jumping to 64.9 percent in 2011-12 and finally reaching 75.0 percent this season. Yes, three-quarters of all Bosh baskets are now of the assisted variety.

A look at a chart of Bosh’s assisted baskets this season shows that he primarily takes jumpers when finishing off the pass. Only 37 of his 88 assisted baskets this season have come in the restricted area, compared to 39 from the areas adjacent to, but inside, the three-point line.

This graphic, via the tracking service mySynergySports, shows the percentage of plays, number of plays, points per play (PPP), PPP rank within the league, fields goals made, attempted and percentage for Bosh over his three seasons with the Heat. 

While with Toronto, Bosh’s primary mode of offense was the post-up (34.9 percent of his plays during the 2009-10 season), and that continued in his first season with Heat.

Since then, his percentage of post-up plays has steadily decreased, while the Heat have worked to find the right balance of opportunities as a roll man in pick-and-rolls and spot-ups. This season, that balance has been found. 

Though he’s now primarily playing center, Bosh’s game has moved farther from the basket, and it’s paid dividends for him. He is shooting a blistering 61.3 percent on shot attempts originating between 16 and 24 feet from the basket (via, a mammoth jump from his 41.1 percent mark last season, as well as 65.8 percent in the restricted area, up from 64.1 percent last season.

Here is Bosh’s shot distribution chart for the past two seasons, per’s stats tool. 

The biggest change comes in that right elbow area, where he took 7.9 percent of his shots last year and has taken 12.6 percent of his attempts so far this season. Most of his shots from that area of the court tend to come either via pick-and-pops or spot-ups.

Most of the time when Bosh gets free for a right elbow jumper, it’s when he’s used as a screen, whether on or off the ball, but the Heat have also run him off an elbow screen of his own out of a horns set multiple times to get him a little more free space. 

You see it here against the Celtics in the season opener, but the Heat have also used variations of this set to get Bosh baskets (or good shots that didn’t happen to go in) against the Grizzlies, Suns, Nuggets and Knicks.

Another way the Heat have taken advantage of Bosh’s mid-range shooting prowess is by using him as the outlet man in pick-and-rolls.

Often, with the defense so concentrated on both the ball-handler and the roll man, that second big is left open on the perimeter with ample time and space to take a jumper. Bosh has taken advantage of this whenever presented with the opportunity. 

This is an especially dangerous option when it’s LeBron rolling through the middle of the lane. Here, against the Suns, LeBron’s own man, Luis Scola, follows him on his roll to the rim, but Marcin Gortat also slides over into the lane to prevent the pass and an easy layup. By doing so, he leaves Bosh ample time to line up a jumper from what has become one of his favorite spots on the court. 

This action also worked with LeBron as the screen against the Grizzlies, with LeBron as the ball-handler against the Clippers and with LeBron uninvolved in the primary action at all against the Suns. Each time it resulted in a spot-up jumper for Bosh because his defender crashed down into the lane a little too hard to guard against the roll man.

By taking advantage of his jump-shooting prowess, the space provided by his teammates and his ability to work as both an on- and off-ball screener, Bosh is off to the best offensive start of his career.

He’s unlikely to sustain his 60-plus percent success rate on long twos (he’s generally been in the mid-40s throughout his career), but it has been fun to watch him scorch the nets so far.