The NBA All-Star Game amounts to little more than a glorified exhibition that only slightly improves on the unwatchable Rookie/Sophomore match. Nonetheless, fans and writers alike use certain credentials to compare players -- championships, MVPs, All-NBA Team selections and yes, All-Star selections. Ideally, the players on the All-Star team should represent the best players from each conference. By that metric, Chris Bosh deserves to make his third straight All-Star team as a Miami Heat player.
The criticisms against Bosh are well-documented. He's only averaged 7.7 rebounds per 36 minutes this year, a career-low. Opposing centers have occasionally dominated Bosh on the glass, like when Nikola Vucevic grabbed 29 boards compared to Bosh's four. Some may argue that Tyson Chandler or Joakim Noah -- rugged defenders who average double-doubles -- should get selected to the team before him. But anyone who asserts that Chandler or Noah deserve a spot on the All-Star team and that Bosh shouldn't be on the team ignores Bosh's vastly superior skill set to those two players.
Offensively, Bosh is having a superb year. He's shooting 55 percent from the field, easily the best of his career. The long-range two -- taken between 16 and 23 feet from the basket -- is a horribly inefficient shot for most people because it is nearly as difficult to make as a 3-pointer without the extra point. But not for Bosh, who early in the season made more long 2s than Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony combined. And before you say that Bosh is only shooting that well because he has LeBron James and Dwyane Wade by his side, think back to the more dreary moments of Bosh's extended absence during last year's playoffs. At times, having Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony made opposing defenses clog the lane and force Miami's two superstars into tough shots. Bosh may benefit from having two Finals MVPs with him, but having Bosh additionally makes the game easier for them.
Despite the fact that Bosh leaves much to be desired on the glass, he also has played good defense this year. He's already blocked more shots this year than he did in either of his previous two seasons with the Heat (he's played 37 games this year compared to 57 last year and 77 the year before). Bosh has consistently added to his repertoire since joining Miami in 2010; he first became a true two-way player and then extended his range to the 3-point line. Now he's become a better shot-blocker, especially important since Anthony isn't playing next to him so much anymore. He played good defense denying Dwight Howard the ball last Thursday as part of a triumvirate of smaller defenders (Anthony and Udonis Haslem were the other two) who held Howard to just 13 points. Bosh also played LaMarcus Aldridge -- a player who has historically given Bosh problems -- pretty well earlier in Miami's just-completed road trip.
To be sure, Bosh certainly should rebound the ball better now that he's playing the center position. But he deserves to make the All-Star team simply because he's a better all-around player than other Eastern Conference power forwards. Bosh deserves to stand with James and Wade as part of the best 12 East players.