Let's explore for a moment the curious case of Chris Bosh.
Bosh burst onto the scene in 2003, one of the elite prospects who comprised that year's legendary draft class. He featured a combination of finesse and just enough power to keep opponents honest.
Over the next six seasons, he became one of the league's top power forwards for the Toronto Raptors and had his best season in 2010 when he averaged 24 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game.
He was unequivocally the No. 1 option in Toronto—their franchise player.
Immediately following that season, the Miami Heat rewarded Bosh with an epic contract that paid him No. 1 option money.
Obviously, he was not the top option in Miami since they also had the best player on the planet in LeBron James. But nonetheless, he was and continues to be paid top dollar for his role in Miami.
This begs the question, if it weren't for his surroundings, would Chris Bosh be a No. 1 option on any NBA team?
The Talent is There
If you look at Bosh's game, a few things immediately jump out.
First, he has tremendous touch for a big man. He has soft hands that allow him to gobble up even the hardest James dishes. Very rarely does a pass get past him.
Offensively, there are very few flaws in his game. He can post up, spot up and drive on occasion. He has enough quickness to cause mismatches with less athletic big men and enough power to overwhelm slightly smaller bigs.
Defensively, he has been called soft on occasion, but that seems to be more of a reputation thing rather than something that is rooted in fact. His rebounding numbers are certainly down, but some of that has to do with his role on the team and the fact that James dominates a lot of those boards.
He has never blocked a ton of shots or stolen the ball with great regularity, but he uses his length and solid defensive instincts to play decently on that side of the ball.
Overall, Bosh doesn't have a lot of flaws in his game. That being said, he also doesn't have that inner fire that the great ones possess.
He isn't an alpha personality. Rather, his role on the Heat is almost that of a glue player who does a little bit of everything. He is essentially a man of many roles, but a master of nothing.
So is that more a product of his environment or his actual talent level?
Not the First to Compromise
Bosh is not the first superstar to join other top-level talents in hope for cumulative greatness.
In the 1990s, Clyde Drexler, and later Charles Barkley, joined Hakeem Olajuwon with the Houston Rockets to make a run at some titles.
Drexler's numbers certainly went down as a result of that move, but he also was on the downside of his career and would ultimately retire a few years after joining the Rockets.
Barkley also saw his numbers trend down, and to add insult to injury, he never won a title.
In the next decade, Rasheed Wallace was dealt to the Detroit Pistons and eventually helped them win a title.
His numbers also suffered, but he, too, was nearing the end of his prime.
Both Garnett and Allen saw their numbers dip as well in order to fit in well with Paul Pierce.
But again, they were nearing the end of their prime and are now just a season or two away from retirement.
Generally speaking, when superstar players join forces with superior talent, their numbers dip.
However, this gets into a sort of chicken-or-the-egg argument.
Which comes first, players reaching the end of their effective primes or a compromising of their roles in order to accomplish a greater goal?
Overall, there are very few cases similar to Bosh as of now. Bosh is still in his prime, and, at 29, he should stay there for at least two or three more years.
Bosh can opt out of his contract with Miami after this season, allowing him to test the market as a free agent.
This is when it will become clear as to what type of future he wants and just how effective he can be. If he decides to stay with a contender, he will most likely continue to have similar numbers to what he has put up over the past few years with Miami.
If he decides to go to a lesser squad, his numbers likely will go up.
Which Teams Could Bite?
When you look around the league, it's curious to imagine which teams Bosh would be a No. 1 option with.
In the East, a few destinations jump out immediately.
None of these teams have a ton of talent, and therefore, Bosh would probably get his numbers.
That being said, none of these teams would turn into a title contender, much less a playoff team.
Additionally, players in their primes who have won titles generally don't backtrack with the teams they choose as free agents. Rather, they jump from contender to contender until they reach the end of their prime and then they start to chase the money.
Therefore, it seems unlikely that we will ever truly get an answer to this question.
Bosh, if he opts out, probably will choose to stay in Miami or jump to another contender.
Only later in his career will he potentially opt to join a bottom-dweller in order to squeeze the last bit of money out of the league.