Chris Bosh, perception, and his ever changing role

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the highs and lows of the Big 3 era, it irked me how a small subset of fans persisted on flagrantly miscategorizing Bosh as a player and a person. Now with the chance to be a featured player Bosh looks to change that.

Soft.

Doesn't rebound.

A terrible defender.

A two guard in a center's body.

Maybe the following maunderings are just a straw man (straw men?). For the most part, Miami Heat fans have admired the hard work and sacrifice of one Christopher Wesson Bosh, and in the midst of having their hearts sink like cinder blocks in an ocean upon learning that LeBron's last game in a HEAT uniform was nearly a month ago, learning that Bosh made the decision to return to Miami despite the Houston Rockets offering the promise of a similar max (or at least close to it) annual salary and a better roster was the proverbial buoy our fractured hearts so badly needed at the moment.

But with Bosh set to now change the perception around him, I'm here to argue that it's utterly preposterous that he even has to do so.

In the midst of this dynastic run (sadly short though it was), we heard often about sacrifice and no HEAT player exemplified that more than Bosh. Everyone knows his boxscore numbers were impressive on middling Toronto teams, and how they gradually dropped every season in Miami.

As a result, those who'd glance and see the past season's 6.6 rebounds per game average would scoff. "He's so tall why can't he bang inside like Zach Randolph? Now there's a player the HEAT need." The 20-10 power forward has remained an uncomfortable standard for manly basketball toughness despite the position's widely acknowledged evolution. So how does Bosh actually compare?

Chris Bosh pulled down 62% of his available rebound "chances". For comparison's sake, Joakim Noah, the symbol for scrappy rebounding and effort, secures 62.5% of his rebound chances. The aforementioned Zach Randolph? 57.5%. David Lee? 56.8%. Now, I'm not trying to say Bosh is better than these or other players. To Randolph's and Noah's credit, they pull down a larger percentage of contested rebounds than Bosh. Bosh can certainly be better at times and those 2 and 3 rebound games were admittedly frustrating during those nights where Miami was getting pounded on the glass.

Still, all the players I've listed as examples have had 17 to 18 total rebounding chances per game. Chris Bosh barely has 11. Now the discerning can key into why this discrepancy exists. Chris Bosh plays an extremely taxing style of defense, excellently summarized by ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, while players of Randolph and Lee's ilk are correctly criticized for limited defensive ability and simply clogging up the paint in lieu of making timely rotations (though this is certainly a generalization on my part).


Bosh, who himself admits that he wasn't taught the intricacies of defense during his days in Toronto has turned his wingspan and lateral movement into the gear that supplemented LeBron's explosive havoc and granted Miami the famed "piranha defense." Bosh will contest a 3 point shooter as often has he tries to be a deterrent in the paint.


But trapped in the '90s, HEAT fan cries for the days of Alonzo Mourning punishing anyone who entered his domain, the paint. Bosh is soft because he isn't our (painfully) ideal version of our first true savant, and the largely intangible style of pick and roll defense only seen by the more percipient NBA viewers.

Well, as a rim defender, Bosh is much better than given credit for. As Haberstroh noted in the video, rolling big men only score 26% of the time on Bosh. And overall, Bosh's rim defense during the regular season and playoffs were consistent, allowing around 52% to opponents at the rim (I will admit the Finals later hurt Bosh's postseason numbers badly in this department. The Spurs are a freakin' juggernaut). That's not an outstanding number, but former Defensive Players of the Year Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler hovered around 51% and 52% respectively (all three players were challenged around 7 times a game).

"But he shoots so many threes! He needs to drive in more!" The idea behind this argument is that Chris Bosh went to bed one night and woke up with a frothing desire to fire threes like Dirk Nowitzki, staying safely out of the paint and avoiding harm's way.

It's amazing how many times Erik Spoelstra and the HEAT staff have had to expound on the true reason for this development. They begged Bosh, one of the NBA's premier midrange shooters for years, to expand his range in order to give LeBron James and the HEAT ball handlers ample room to operate. He worked tirelessly this offseason to improve on a shot that wasn't great the year prior (28%) and more than doubled his attempts, increasing his percentage to a modest 34%. In becoming a spot up shooter from beyond the arc, this meant even fewer isolations and post ups for Bosh, not that there were many to begin with in Miami.

And this is where I think Spoelstra hurt (failed may be too strong a word) Bosh. In trying to maximize LeBron's talents after a harrowing defeat to the Dallas Mavericks, he minimized Bosh's, slowly turning him into a 2014 version of Sam Perkins on offense. You can't argue with the championship results, but seeing Bosh blow by Duncan and Splitter for two games before being reduced to a borderline spectator on offense made you wonder.

LeBron is gone and Dwyane Wade is 32 and heading for 33 with questions surrounding his ability to contribute a full season and not break down. By all accounts, Bosh will now serve as the primary scoring option, if not the 1B to Dwyane's still potent (when healthy) 1A. Miami's efficiency has been touted as record breaking, but from year 3 on (Bosh's first of 9 straight all-star selections) Bosh's FG% has been 51, 50, 49, 49, 52, 50, 49, 53, and 52. Remarkable consistency whether in Toronto or Miami.

Miami may still pursue other options to fill the void left by LeBron's departure and Spoelstra will now have to reinvent the offense and defense with a little under three months before the NBA kicks off a new season. You can bet Bosh is now at the forefront of the coaching staff's plans. Though 30, Bosh's game will age well and maybe with a chance to put up better box score numbers, the asinine complaints regarding his game will cease.

But the point of my rambling, nonsensical recap of Bosh misnomers was to say that they simply should not have existed to begin with, at least amongst HEAT fans. I can ultimately understand the national media and fans of other teams sharing some of these sentiments. I'm sure I have inaccurate perceptions on many players outside of Miami (DIAW YOU'RE SO FAT WHY ARE YOU GOOD AT BASKETBALL!), but to hear the misguided nonsense from our own fanbase exasperated me more than any comments about LeBron's clutch genes or "built not bought" arguments.

Chris has been a remarkable player for four magical seasons in Miami and now he has a chance to show the basketball world the full force of his abilities.

Like a Bosh.

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