Houston Rockets

Chris Bosh Would Give Houston Rockets Best Superstar Trio in the NBA

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 4:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat and Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets during the game on March 4, 2014 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2014

The Houston Rockets put on a good show for free agent Carmelo Anthony, but there are hardly any guarantees the prized 30-year-old will pick the Rockets over other suitors that include the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and, of course, Anthony's own New York Knicks.

That doesn't mean that general manager Daryl Morey will be denied his signature big splash move, though.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the organization has Miami Heat big man Chris Bosh lined up as a secondary target. 

Per Stein, "Sources told ESPN.com on Thursday night that the Rockets -- while still holding out hope that Anthony will choose them after hosting him Wednesday in Houston -- have already let Bosh know how interested they are in bringing the Dallas native back to Texas."

Not a bad plan B.

In fact, Bosh might be an even better fit in Houston than Anthony. Given that Melo and fellow swingman James Harden both dominate the ball so much, the two might make for an odd pairing. That problem wouldn't exist with Bosh in the fold.

Nov 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is restrained by official Scott Foster (48) as he confronts Houston Rockets power forward Dwight Howard (12) and shooting guard James Harden (13) during the third quarter o
USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, he'd be the perfect complement to Harden's penchant for driving and kicking the ball. Bosh has developed a pretty consistent three-point shot, meaning he'd create space for both Harden's penetration and Dwight Howard's work in the post.

He made 33.9 percent of his three-point attempts last season and offered a decent sample size from which to draw, attempting 2.8 three-pointers per game. That efficiency improved in the postseason, as Bosh made 40.5 percent of his 3.7 attempts per contest.

Here's a look at his playoff shot chart.

Bosh's 2013-14 playoff shot chart.
Bosh's 2013-14 playoff shot chart.NBA.com

The evolution of Bosh's game has been pivotal for the Miami Heat, giving LeBron James and Dwyane Wade another target on the perimeter who can help stretch defenses out.

"He’s big time," James told reporters during the playoffs. "His ability to shoot the ball is a great equalizer for our team."

It would function similarly for the Rockets.

Recall that Howard was at his best offensively when paired with stretch 4 Ryan Anderson. He averaged a career-high 22.9 points per game during the 2010-11 season, a campaign in which Anderson made 39.3 percent of his three-point attempts.

The logic is simple enough. When a fellow big man can make baskets from the perimeter, it forces defensive bigs to vacate the paint. In turn, low-post players like Howard have more room to operate near the basket.

Floor spacing is crucial to sound offense, especially in today's NBA. Howard wouldn't be the only one benefiting from Bosh's presence.

CBSSports.com's Matt Moore adds:

Bosh would be a tremendous fit in Houston. He pairs expertly with Dwight Howard as a pick-and-roll-defending stretch-four who could balance the Rockets' offense and work as a pick and pop partner with James Harden. He would instantly help form one of the best defensive frontcourts in the league with their ability to defend all over the court, and give them a veteran who has no discernible injury issues and an attitude that wouldn't clash with Harden or Howard.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat looks to shoot against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

And that's what makes this such a compelling scenario. It's not just about assembling a core with three superstars. It's about building one that actually meshes. 

The chemistry would be virtually ready-made. Keep in mind that Bosh has already proved that he's more than willing to defer. He gave up the superstar numbers in Toronto so that he could experience superstar results in Miami. It follows that Bosh would have no problem with Harden taking the lion's share of shots, nor would he have any problem allowing Howard to get his share of touches.

This trio would be incredibly effective.

Whether it's the NBA's best depends on a few things. If we're talking about a hypothetical world in which Bosh has left Miami, we might as well consider the consequences of James also leaving. After all, if James returns to the Heat, Bosh will probably follow suit.

Should James leave, he could potentially form a Big Three in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant and another star (potentially Anthony). If he returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he'd be on the verge of a star trio pending Andrew Wiggins' development as a legitimate cohort for point guard Kyrie Irving.

Chicago is looking to construct a star trio of its own, ideally landing Anthony alongside Derrick Rose and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah.

But for the moment, there would be only one real rival to Houston-plus-Bosh. The Oklahoma City Thunder boast an awfully impressive trifecta in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Though Ibaka is much better than Bosh at rim protection, Bosh is clearly the more versatile third wheel.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 19:  Serge Ibaka #9, Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder talk during the Memphis Grizzlies in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on A
Richard Rowe/Getty Images

And as electric as Westbrook is, Howard remains the best two-way big man in the league. That leaves OKC's only real advantage on the wing with Durant, who's still a more dominant scorer than Harden. 

Star trios are increasingly difficult to maintain in this league on account of a collective bargaining agreement that penalizes bloated payrolls with a stiff luxury tax. Windows of opportunity when three players are all in their prime are also rare. Note how quickly the Boston Celtics had to blow things up after two trips to the NBA Finals.

The San Antonio Spurs have succeeded in maintaining an aging Big Three thanks in large part to the players' collective willingness to be paid less than their market value. Even so, it was Kawhi Leonard who won the Finals MVP award last season, not one of San Antonio's classic trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

Hard as it may be to keep a good thing going in this league, Morey will settle for nothing less. He knows Houston's time is now, that Harden has blossomed as a scorer and that Howard still has a few years left playing at a dominant level on both ends of the floor.

The initial challenge will, of course, be prying Bosh from the Heat. He already has a comfort zone in Miami and has already built connectivity with James and Wade. It's hard to see him bolting at this point unless James does so first.

But if Miami's world comes crashing down, Houston will happily take advantage.

And the rest of the NBA would certainly take notice.

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