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In Year 4, Miami Heat's Chris Bosh Keeps Expanding His Repertoire

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In Year 4, Miami Heat's Chris Bosh Keeps Expanding His Repertoire

MIAMI — Christopher Wesson Bosh is a man without borders. 

That is true with his resume, considering that he started his career in Toronto and now plies his trade for Miami. That is true with his travel, his annual trips across Europe—and last summer, as an NBA ambassador in India.

That is true with his interests, from video production to Spanish lessons to computer programming, the latter of which the self-proclaimed "geek" and "nerd" chronicled in a piece, "Why You Should Learn to Code," in the most recent Wired magazine. 

He is becoming a player without borders as well. 

That is illustrated by a graphic a lot less complex than much of what Bosh has created with a keyboard: His shot chart.

NBA.com

Or, as he calls it, "my pie chart."

"It will be everywhere," Bosh said Monday night, after continuing his strong start to the season with 24 points and seven rebounds in Sunday's 103-93 win over the Washington Wizards, and just hours before the birth of a baby daughter, Dylan Skye Bosh. "I knew that coming in this year." 

Bosh didn't travel to Toronto after the exciting expansion of his family.

Through four games of his fourth season with the Miami Heat, that chart stands as a small slice of evidence of his ever-expanding on-court versatility.

If you split the offensive end into 14 regions—from left to right and from outside in—Bosh has covered all of them with at least one of his 44 shots, 26 of which he has converted. 

That total includes 11 attempts from the restricted area, near the rim; 10 from the right elbow inside the arc; and three from the left corner, behind the arc. It seems the only sure way to slow him, as he moves from region to region, is to ask to stamp his passport. 

What's apparent is that Bosh has stopped slowing himself by overthinking his assignment. His introspection has sometimes inhibited him, as he's tried to adjust to ever-changing responsibilities in Miami, responsibilities much different than those related to serving as Toronto's go-to guy.

For the first season-and-a-half with the Heat, Bosh was primarily in the high post.

Not anymore. 

"It's probably the toughest balance with Chris, because we have to play him in so many different places," coach Erik Spoelstra said.

"He does change positions throughout the course of the game. Nobody else does that except for LeBron (James). And then depending on what position he's at, he has to be aggressive—he has to create that paint opportunity for us; but then when he's at a different position, he has to really facilitate for us. That's a tough balance to strike. He's getting better at it. He'll need to continue to get better, to take that next step forward, of real understanding of what we're trying to get done. That's the next level of IQ that we're pushing him to get."

Quite understandably, not every fan understands what Bosh is doing. 

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

For instance, most assume, since he's now listed as a center, that he is starting games at that position when he's playing next to the smaller Udonis Haslem.

Not so.

Actually, when playing with Haslem, Bosh is the power forward. 

"When I'm at the 4, the looks are going to be a little bit different, so I have to be ready to let the ball go in those spots, making extra passes—it’s really just everything," Bosh said. "And then when I'm at the 5, it's picking and rolling."

That's when he is playing with James, Shane Battier or Rashard Lewis filling the traditional power forward slot. 

"Every now and then, I’ll have a little bit of space to operate," Bosh said. "It's going to be coming from everywhere." 

The position thing is a little odd, no?

"Yeah, man, we want to confuse people as much as possible, that’s our goal," Bosh said, smiling. "I know they say, 'He’s starting at center,' and then I'm out at the three-point line. We just always give them different looks, mix and match all the time." 

Bosh's improved mastery of his offensive mix was on display Monday. Cutting to the basket to convert a layup on a Mario Chalmers feed. Putting back a Ray Allen miss. Calling for the ball in the post and sinking a step-back jumper. And what everyone notices, hitting a couple of corner threes. 

Bosh is now 6-of-10 from behind the arc. 

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

"And partly my view is it's a shame that that's all anybody's focusing on," Spoelstra said. "There's so many different aspects of his development and his versatility and making our game work and making our game better on both sides of the court. But naturally, that's the one that stands out. And I get it, because that's something he's been working very diligently on, and he spaces the floor for us in ways that are very important, that corner shot is critical. But boy, he's taking on a lot of things that are uncomfortable."

Such as serving as what Spoelstra calls "a de facto unconventional point 4/5," getting the Heat into their actions on offense. Spoelstra gives Lewis, Allen and Battier the green light to shoot if they have the slightest daylight. But he only wants Bosh taking the three-pointer when he has a clean look, one that is the natural consequence of a well-run set. 

"If we're entering (the ball), and he's launching a three, yeah, I'm probably not fired up about that," Spoelstra said.

Nor when Bosh, burdened by his spacing and facilitating duties, neglects other aspects.  

"When he's playing in these regions on the court, yes, we still expect him to rebound and to defend and guard the rim the way he's capable of doing," Spoelstra said.

That's all, right?

Nothing more to make a man's head swim? 

Not really. 

"I've told him before, it won't stop," Spoelstra said. "As soon as he gets comfortable with something else, we'll push him just out of his comfort level in another area. And he has that type of ability to continue to take on new responsibilities."

And he will remain an unconventional, if sometimes underappreciated, asset as the Heat try to chart their course to another championship. 

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the Heat for Bleacher Report.

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