LeBron James' Dominance Is Masking Chris Bosh's Evolution
The problem is that the 28-year-old has become an easy target for fans around the Association, and even in one of his most impressive campaigns to date, he’s being overshadowed by the best player in the game—LeBron James.
Alongside James, Bosh’s flair is hardly noticeable. He’s not the face of the franchise, he doesn’t fill the stat sheet and he’s certainly not a frequent flier when it comes to the nightly highlight reels.
The big man no longer looks like a superstar in today’s NBA, but in a league where stars are both praised and criticized, looks can be deceiving.
Ten years into his career, Bosh has done something that most players never truly do. He’s changed positions, and along with that change, he’s become a much more efficient basketball player.
The forward-turned-center is shooting a career-high 54.7 percent from the field. His shot is at an all-time-high percentage from everywhere inside the three-point line (according to Hoopdata.com), and he’s adapted to playing against bigger players on a daily basis.
But while Bosh is having a career season shooting the ball, James is the one who is making history (per ESPN):
James has made headlines with his efficiency all year. He’s shooting career highs in field-goal percentage (56.7 percent) and three-point percentage (41 percent), and he’s doing it while taking the fewest shots he's ever taken (18.1 per game).
More notable was his streak of six straight contests where he recorded at least 30 points on at least 60 percent shooting. It was an NBA record (according to ESPN), and while the streak came to an end in game seven, he still managed to score 39 points while shooting 58.3 percent from the field.
What James does to put the ball in the basket is beyond impressive, but it’s his ability to get teammates involved and make others better that separates him from the rest. Not many players can score 40 points in a single game—even less can do it while collecting 16 assists along the way (per Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD).
Bosh may be a forward-turned-center, but James is a rare brand of player, and nobody is going to outshine him at this stage in his career:
LeBron James is incredible. He had 40 points, 16 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block in Miami's win over Sacramento. He can do it all.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 27, 2013
The biggest critique against Bosh is his rebounding, and on the surface, the fans’ concerns are justified. He’s pulling down a career-low 7.1 boards per game, and that’s a far cry from the double-doubles we were used to seeing when he rocked the braids and was his team’s No. 1 option.
But what you have to recognize is that he’s playing the fewest minutes of his NBA career and that the Heat actually get worse at rebounding when he’s on the bench.
With Bosh on the floor, teams have to put a body on him because of his length. This has allowed James to collect a team-leading 8.1 rebounds per contest, and it's the reason opponents can hone in when the big man leaves the floor.
Miami’s total rebounding percentage drops by nearly two percent when Bosh takes a seat. That wasn’t the case as recent as the 2011-12 campaign, and that's something not even James can claim at this point in the season
What defines a superstar in today’s NBA is for each individual to decide. There’s really no questioning what James’ status is at this juncture, but Bosh is a whole different debate just waiting to happen.
Whatever label you want to give him, Bosh has proven he can make the necessary adjustments for the team to succeed. He’s shown that he can play behind stars and still be productive, and he’s revealed that at 28 years old, he’s not locked into his natural position.
With James doing what he’s doing, Bosh hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. But as much as the man in the middle has done for the team, it all means nothing without another ring to put on his finger.
If James is going to be the star of the show, so be it. That’s something the fans will expect, and if it means winning another title, Bosh should accept it when it’s all said and done.
*All advanced statistics are provided by 82games.com unless otherwise noted.
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