Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat will enter their 11th game of the season against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday at 6-4. While most teams would be satisfied to sit at over .500 after playing the Boston Celtics twice and the one-loss New Orleans Hornets on the road, the Miami Heat are not one of those teams.
The expectations are much higher on the Heat and rightly so. The Miami Thrice, as Bosh, Wade and James came to be known as, made the 2010-2011 NBA the most anticipated season in league history. LeBron and Wade were and still are two of the top three or four players in the entire league.
Chris Bosh was an unquestioned top 15 player in the NBA but not this season.
Bosh has simply seemed uncomfortable in the Heat offense this season. Used to being the focal point of the offense as he was with Toronto, Bosh must relegate this season to the third option on the floor.
While the effect of fewer shots has influenced Wade and James to some extent, Bosh has been the most affected by the reduced touches. Statistically, Bosh has been harmed the most by the transition.
Bosh's points per game average has fallen 9.5 points this season. His rebounds are down 4.8 per game and even his field goal percentage has taken a dip. Some of this can be blamed on a reduction in minutes. Much of the blame though must fall on the difficult transition Bosh is making from first option to third.
So why has Bosh not fit in well, while Wade and James seem to be coalescing relatively well?
Chris Bosh is a half-court player who does well with the ball in his hand. He can play with his back to the basket. He is also terrific as a spot up shooter and can play a defender straight up. However, this style of play just doesn't match that of Wade or James.
Wade and James are excellent individual players as well as athletic distributors. Players like James Jones, Eddie House and Zydrunas Ilgauskas fit particularly well with Wade and Bosh because they are effective from the perimeter. They can also run the court in a fast-paced offense and spot up for quick shots.
Bosh's style of play is far more apt for a half-court offense where he can be the main or second option on the floor. That's not to say Bosh cannot adjust. For example, in Kevin Garnett's first year with Boston, he saw similar decreases in points, rebounds and assists per game. One cannot forget that it is not just Bosh that is new to this Miami Heat system, but every Heat player who is learning to adjust to new teammates and new offensive schemes.
At closer inspection, Bosh has already improved somewhat this year within this offense. In the first five games, Bosh shot 34 percent or less from the field in three of them. In his last five games, he has not shot less than 50 percent from the field.
The commotion that has been caused by Miami's start is understandable. The talent on the Miami Heat roster is unprecedented for any team in league history. Consequently, people will begin to point fingers and assign blame. Erik Spoelstra, Carlos Arroyo and now Chris Bosh have been the most frequent targets of those scrutinizing the Heat's start.
One thing is certain. While the Heat may not win the 70 games many were projecting, they will get better. Over time the Miami Thrice will begin to gel. Coach Erik Spoelstra will find rotations that maximize his players' strong points. Miami will find a solution to their problems at the point guard position, specifically defending top point guards.
The turnaround starts with Bosh. Is he up to the task?