If Chris Bosh wants to hoist another trophy, he'll have to get better.
You may have forgotten, but the Miami Heat do, in fact, have a Big Three.
Bosh put forth some of the most lackluster performances of his career against the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs. If the Heat want to three-peat in 2013-14, he will have to be better. Much better.
There are several reasons why Bosh will have to be better than ever this coming season. While LeBron James is Miami's best player and Dwyane Wade is the sidekick, people underestimate just how important Bosh is to this team.
It's essentially common knowledge that Dwyane Wade is not the player he once was.
Thanks to persistent knee injuries, the future Hall of Famer has been significantly slowed, and that puts even more pressure on LeBron James to be perfect night in and night out.
That's where Bosh comes in.
Wade's not going to be able to play as many minutes as before, so Bosh must assume a more prominent role within the Heat's offense. The fewer minutes Wade gets, the more touches Bosh will receive, and he has to make the most of those touches.
That means no threes, Chris.
During the 2012-13 campaign, Bosh took 74 triples and only hit 28.4 percent of them. That is not a good number, especially for a 6'11" power forward/center who should spend most of his time in the paint (or, at the very least, above the three-point arc).
Instead of jacking up so many bombs, Bosh should focus on utilizing his length and athleticism to slash to the basket. That is when he is most effective.
It wouldn't hurt for him to develop a consistent post game, either, but let's take it one step at a time. For now, Bosh merely needs to ditch the three-point shooting and take higher-percentage shots, especially with a tender Wade.
The Heat are no longer the clear-cut favorites in the Eastern Conference.
The East is rapidly improving. The Brooklyn Nets added Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and company this summer. The New York Knicks made some nice, quiet moves. And the Chicago Bulls got Derrick Rose back.
Of course, then there's the Indiana Pacers, the team that just took Miami to seven games in the conference finals.
Do you notice one thing these teams have in common?
They're all big.
The Nets will boast a frontcourt rotation of Brook Lopez, Garnett, Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans. The Knicks have Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and the physical Kenyon Martin. Finally, the Bulls' front line features Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer with Taj Gibson off the bench.
It's no secret that Miami's biggest weakness is its lack of size, and that is where Bosh will have to "man up" and starting playing like a big man rather than a shooting guard in a power forward's body.
If Bosh doesn't start asserting himself and getting tougher on both ends of the floor, the Heat are going to have an awfully tough time getting back to the finals.
The Heat picked up two reclamation projects this summer: Michael Beasley and Greg Oden.
In the case of Oden, some guidance from Bosh could go a long way in potentially revitalizing his career.
Oden hasn't played in an NBA game since the 2009-10 season, so obviously he is going to need some work, regardless of how much ability he may have. Bosh can not only be someone to help Oden skill-wise, but he can also teach him how to minimize the possibility of injury.
As was stated in the previous slide, Miami's biggest issue is a lack of a presence up front. If Oden can stay healthy and rediscover what made him a top prospect, the Heat are going to be that much more dangerous.
The chances of that happening are significantly greater if Bosh steps in and mentors the 25-year-old.
Here's some not-so-breaking news: LeBron James can opt out his contract in the summer of 2014 and elect to take his services elsewhere if he pleases.
This is a huge reason why Bosh needs to step up big-time this season.
If James sees Wade laboring with bad knees and Bosh playing like he did during the 2013 playoffs, why would he stick around? We have already seen that LeBron does not stay somewhere just because he likes the city.
James wants to be in a situation where he can win, and a gimpy Wade and an inconsistent, unassertive Bosh is not exactly an ideal recipe for future success.
If Bosh can channel his talent into semi-dominant performances on a regular basis, it will provide a solid chunk of ammunition for Pat Riley to convince LeBron that Miami is the place for him long-term.
However, if we see No. 1 constantly hanging around the three-point line and waiting for kickouts so he can fire up triples like he did in 2012-13, James might just say, "I'm out of here."
It would be difficult to find another NBA player who takes as much of a beating in the media and amongst fans as Chris Bosh.
Some of the criticism is far too personal and, quite frankly, inappropriate, but those who are strictly disparaging his level of play have a point.
Let's be real here: Bosh did not play well during the 2013 playoffs. This guy is the highest-paid player on the Heat, and yet he did not even register a single point in Game 7 of the finals.
Bosh was also thoroughly abused by the likes of Tim Duncan, Roy Hibbert and David West throughout the postseason. As a matter of fact, during the conference finals against Indiana, Bosh recorded fewer than five rebounds four times in seven games. That is absolutely terrible for a 6'10" forward/center, especially for one cashing the kind of checks he does.
Even though he was able to capture another ring, the fact that Bosh played so poorly during the playoffs has to bother him. So, if nothing else, it would greatly behoove Bosh to redeem himself. It would not only be important to him, but it would be imperative to Miami as a collective unit.
Bosh is a professional athlete, and professional athletes have competitive drives that most everyday people cannot even fathom. That's why it's only fair to assume that redemption is on the 29-year-old's mind, and that should bode well for the Heat moving forward.
That is, as long as Bosh uses it to fuel him rather than lets it eat him up.