Chris Bosh and 10 Most Important Role Players in the NBA

Drake Oz@drakeozbrSenior Writer IINovember 19, 2010

Chris Bosh and 10 Most Important Role Players in the NBA

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    Chris Bosh was the man with the Toronto Raptors, but he's been forced to take a back seat since relocating to South Beach.

    He's undoubtedly the third wheel with the Miami Heat behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    Still, Bosh's play this season might be the most important component to the team's success, both in the regular season and the playoffs.

    Bosh may be more of a role player in Miami, but sometimes role players are the biggest difference between being an elite team and just making the playoffs.

    So who are the Boshes of the league, the guys who are considered the No. 3 players on their teams?

    Well, let's take a look at the top 10 role players (defined as third wheels rather than one-trick ponies in this case) who will contribute the most to their team's success this season.

    And of course, we'll rank 'em too.

No. 10: Trevor Ariza

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    Trevor Ariza is never going to be confused for an NBA superstar, but he'll be a vital part of the New Orleans Hornets' success this season.

    Ariza provides the Hornets with exactly what they needed at small forward, a young, athletic defender who can also contribute on offense.

    With all due respect to Peja Stojakovic, it was time to get younger and Ariza certainly has a lot more gas left in the tank.

    Ariza is contributing 10.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists during the Hornets' 9-1 start, which isn't going to wow very many people.

    Perhaps more importantly though, he's played very good defense all season and already has a firm understanding of his role as a defender and shooter in New Orleans.

No. 9: Jeff Green

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    Jeff Green might very well be a star on half the teams in the league, but he is undoubtedly the third option on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    It's certainly not a knock on Green. Kevin Durant's a superstar, and Russell Westbrook is on his way.

    But Green will be considered a role player on the Thunder for the foreseeable future, a position that fits him perfectly.

    Green's been banged up much of this season, but he's played very effectively when on the court, contributing 18.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

    The Thunder will ride Durant and Westbrook to the playoffs, but they'll need Green to get to that next level.

    Green does need to prove, however, that he's a better option than Serge Ibaka, which is something he hasn't quite been able to do yet.

No. 8: Jason Terry

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    Since Jason Terry comes off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks, he may not even be considered the No. 3 player on that team.

    But Terry's basically a starter—he averages 34.7 minutes per game—and his contributions to that team are second only to Dirk Nowitzki.

    Terry scores an outstanding 19.3 points per game off the bench, and he's an underrated passer who contributes 4.6 assists as well.

    He's the NBA's premiere sixth man, who's deadly from behind the arc (46.7 percent on three-point shooting) and all over the court (52.5 percent from the field).

    On most NBA teams he'd be a starter, but he knows his role in Dallas and fits it to perfection.

No. 7: Al Horford

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    On a team with guys like Mike Bibby, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson, Al Horford is often the forgotten Atlanta Hawk.

    But you could make a case that Horford is the team's most effective and consistent player.

    For his career Horford's averaged 12.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, but he's stepped his offensive game up so far this season, averaging 17.2 points per contest.

    Horford is frequently overlooked in the conversation concerning the league's top big men, but he's proven to be a remarkably effective player for the Hawks.

    He's a more natural four, yet he still excels at the center position.

    Horford has the versatility to play both positions, which is an added advantage that many people fail to notice.

No. 6: Ray Allen

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    I'm really not sure what the exact pecking order is for the Boston Celtics.

    I'll go with Rajon Rondo being the team's best and most important player, but Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will obviously all play a critical part in the team's success.

    Just to pick one though, let's go with Ray Allen, who at 35 years old still looks like he's in his prime.

    Allen puts up 18.1 points and 2.6 assists per game, but the real strength of his game is his ability to be an assassin behind the three-point line.

    I look to his most recent performance against the Miami Heat (35 points) for how Ray Allen can influence the outcome of a game.

    Allen's as clutch of a player as there is in the league, and the Celtics wouldn't be near the team they are without their sharpshooter. 

No. 5: Joakim Noah

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    There are a lot of mixed feelings from NBA fans toward Joakim Noah, who's viewed as an incredible hustler by some and an annoying pest by others.

    But either way you look at it, the Chicago Bulls center strives in this league despite not being the most skilled or athletically gifted player.

    Noah puts up a very respectable 15.4 points per game and is a beast in the paint, averaging 12.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

    Derrick Rose will always be Chicago's No. 1 option and Carlos Boozer will likely be looked at as his wingman when he returns from injury.

    But Noah is the perfect compliment to Rose's fast-paced style and Boozer's lack of defense.

    If the Bulls are going to make that jump in the Eastern Conference, it will be largely because of Noah.

No. 4: Chris Bosh

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    Chris Bosh has gotten a lot of heat—pun intendedfor his play so far this season, but that talk has cooled considerably after his most recent performance against the Phoenix Suns (35 points, six rebounds and four assists).

    Still, Bosh will continue to hear the criticism if he can't continue to improve.

    Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will certainly be the team's primary scorers, but Bosh has to be a 10-plus rebound guy for the Heat to succeed this season.

    Bosh's 16.4 points per game this season is fine. It's that six rebounds per game and his defensive play that need work.

    With the Heat having a very thin roster that doesn't feature much behind the Miami Thrice, Bosh has to be a double-double guy for a team that isn't going to get much rebounding from elsewhere.

No. 3: Luis Scola

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    Luis Scola is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, failing to get much love from fans and analysts despite being a double-double threat every time he steps on the court.

    Depending on Yao Ming's health status—and who you askScola is often overlooked in favor of Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin, even though I'd argue that Scola is the team's best player.

    Scola will never be considered a great defender and he's far from an elite athlete, but he still averages 22.8 points and 10 rebounds per game.

    In fact, he's put up at least 20 points in all but three games so far this season, and he has three games with 16 rebounds.

    With Yao's shaky health, Scola will continue to be the most important big man on the Houston Rockets.

No. 2: Manu Ginobili

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    Is Manu Ginobili the best player on the San Antonio Spurs?

    Probably, but I still feel like he's often lost in the shuffle behind Tony Parker and Tim Duncan even though they haven't played all that well recently.

    And at 33 years old, Ginobili can still get it done across the board.

    He averages 21.2 points, 4.4 assists and three rebounds per game, and is still one of the NBA's best slashers at the shooting guard position.

    With Duncan's production falling—he failed to score 10 points in three straight games for the first time in his careerGinobili's play will be that much more important this season.

    Plus, Parker's in the middle of divorce, so who knows if his play will suffer as well.

No. 1: Paul Millsap

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    Paul Millsap may be a surprise pick here, but his role on the Utah Jazz has grown exponentially following the departure of Carlos Boozer.

    Deron Williams is obviously the top dog in Utah, so I think Millsap falls behind Al Jefferson in Utah's hierarchy.

    Millsap, however, has done an excellent job filling in for Boozer.

    He's averaged 21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists so far this season, and he is a much better defender than Boozer ever was.

    We've also seen with Millsap's 46-point performance against the Heat that his offense is steadily improving as well, and the Jazz's future will be determined in large part by Millsap's ability to adapt to his new role.

    So far, so good.

    But Millsap has to keep it up for the Jazz to hang in a tough Western Conference.