Checklist for Maimi Heat's Chris Bosh to Have Definitive Campaign This Season

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Checklist for Maimi Heat's Chris Bosh to Have Definitive Campaign This Season
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

The 2013-14 Miami Heat season is Chris Bosh's to own. He's just going to need to do some convincing, in order to do so.

Scoring won't do it.

Bosh dropped 35 against Phoenix in his first year with Miami and 40 last year against Denver, yet was hardly given such opportunities to score again. The green light had changed to yellow as quick as it had given Bosh the go-ahead to be the player he was with Toronto.

Instead of maximizing their product, the Miami Heat have reduced Bush to a role player. He's primarily utilized to space the floor for the drives of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, yet is hardly looked at as an option that can consistently get the ball and deliver points.

Of the 330 jumpers he converted, nearly 82 percent came off of assists, including 207 from the 16-to-25 foot range with a 90-percent assist rate. By comparison, 139 of his converted layups were assisted 69 percent of the time. When he scores, most of the time it's coming off a dish from likely either James or Wade off a kick-out.

For further comparison, Bosh only had 52 percent of the 275 jumpers he made assisted in his final year with Toronto. That percentage drops to a mere 44 percent on layups. These numbers occurred during a time when Bosh constantly had the go-ahead to score and play the game he was comfortable playing.

But where's the room for Bosh to do that today?

Sure, he's become a lot more efficient, recently shooting a career-high 54 percent from the field and a career-high 55 percent as far as his efficient field-goal percentage goes, but it comes at the sacrifice of being a heavy contributor.

We can notice it in Bosh attempting only 12.3 shots per game last year and averaging a near career-low of 16.6 points.

Since signing with the Heat in 2010, Bosh's role on the team has diminished from mid-range and post threat to simply mid-range and perimeter threat. His usage rate of 22.7 percent this past season was his lowest in three years with the Heat, while Dwyane Wade and LeBron James manage a usage rate at or near 30 percent.

His minutes, field-goal attempts and free-throw attempts were also at their lowest in the three years he has spent with Miami.

When he's criticized for not living up to the lucrative deal he signed in 2010, it's not his fault; it's the Heat's for not putting him in a role where he can be the same perennial 20-10 player he was with Toronto.

It's all a part of the sacrifice, yes, and it's resulted in two championships and three visits to the Finals, too, but the Heat are now reaching a crucial point in the makeup of their franchise where they have to give Bosh a larger role. It's not just because it's a possible contract year and better offers with larger roles will be waiting for Bosh, but because it's simply better for the Heat this year.

Do the Heat want Dwyane Wade pouring out more energy than absolutely necessary in the regular season when they'll need him for the postseason? Why risk it when there's a perennial 20-10 guy on the bench who is just waiting for the chance to receive an increased role?

Bosh is clearly more important to the team than Wade.

He's not better, but the Heat would be in a better position to win games if it was Bosh playing and not Wade because there's already a player like Dwyane on the floor facilitating nearly every play.

By throwing Bosh into a secondary role, the Heat add another dimension to their game that they haven't experimented with on a consistent basis. He's had his moments, but it's only when he's given the opportunity to shoot. When he dropped 40 on the Nuggets, he attempted 22 shots. When he scored 28 on Toronto? 19 shots.

The Heat were 10-3 last year when Bosh attempted 15 shots.

The only losses came by way of a loss to Portland, which was enabled by an absurd Wesley Matthews three-pointer, a loss to Detroit, which was the result of Charlie Villanueva and Will Bynum having abnormal performances, and the loss to Chicago that ended the 27-game winning streak.

Take away the two contests where Miami's opponent made uncharacteristic shots, and the Heat are 12-1 in those contests where Bosh shoots at least 15 times.

Going further back, the Heat were 11-1 in 2011-12 when Bosh attempted at least 17 field goals. They were 8-1 in 2010-11 when Bosh scored at least 25 points. Good things tended to happen when Bosh was given the opportunity to score, and he rarely failed to not take advantage.

But it has done little to push Bosh into the spotlight.

In fact, his role has only decreased.

The Heat have employed him as the league's tallest shooting guard at certain points, rendering him as one of their elite shooters along with other opportunists in Ray Allen, Shane Battier and James Jones.

An underrated part of his game, magnified since his first days with Miami, has been his ability to adjust and adapt to situations that cause his role to change. However, he has thrived in seemingly every situation, proving to be a quality threat around the rim, as a spot-up shooter and when utilized as the pick-and-roll man.

Per Synergy, Bosh ranked 24th in points per possession when used as the roll-man off of picks, shooting 57 percent on 212 opportunities. He also ranked 13th in PPP off of cuts, shooting 72 percent on the 124 attempts he received, as well as 48th in the few post-ups he received, converting 43 percent of his 141 attempts.

On spot-ups, from which Bosh generated 33 percent of his offense, Bosh was a 46-percent shooter overall and a 31-percent shooter from beyond the arc.

He can play in any sort of scenario presented to him.

However, there's no scenario that Bosh would prefer more than one where he is treated as a player who can drop 20 points per game. He hasn't averaged more than 18.7 points since joining the Heat and hasn't attempted more than 14 shots per game.

The Heat may finally be aware of the limitations Wade has.

In the Heat's first two preseason games, only one of which Wade played in, Bosh was looked at as the primary scorer due to LeBron taking it easy. He delivered with a combined 49 points on only 24 shots. Even more impressive were the 10 free throws he took in those games.

In four preseason games, Bosh has already attempted 21 free throws, good enough for 5.2 per game, despite playing in no more than 26 minutes in any game. He recently set his high for the young preseason with seven attempts against the Washington Wizards.

Because Bosh has been relegated to spot-up responsibilities, his free-throw attempts have gone on a steep decline. After attempting as many as 6.1 per game in 2011, Bosh was only taking four free throw attempts per game last year, only slightly more than in his rookie year.

There are far too many numbers from last year that are nearly equivalent to the numbers he put up in his rookie year.

In case you haven't watched his career, Bosh is a matchup nightmare for a majority of the league's power forwards and centers. He attempted at least eight free throws any given night for five consecutive years with Toronto and is arguably the Heat's best free-throw shooter after Ray Allen. 

With opponents thinking they may have caught up with the Heat, with players returning back from injury and signings to fill up the bench, Miami may have yet to reveal all its cards. It has had Dwyane Wade playing as its second-in-command but has yet to showcase Bosh in such a role.

Since the road to the Finals could be as complex and rigorous as ever, it could finally be Bosh's year to step into the role he was made for: being the main complement to a star facilitator. 

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