Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Over the course of the Miami Heat's training camp, Hot Hot Hoops will give player profiles for all Heat players. We're up to Chris Bosh, a skilled post player who has went from ridiculed to under-appreciated entering his 10th season.
Who is he?
Chris Bosh has carried a burden throughout his career. A burden Dirk Nowitzki can relate to, for one, but very few others.
For Bosh, it began with peoples reluctance to accept his perimeter oriented skill-set and view it as a flaw for being different. It's not as if Bosh hasn't had Hall-of-Fame caliber production throughout his career, it's that fans and media we're obsessed with wanting to see big men produce how they wanted them to. He's been ridiculed by Shaquille O'Neal, called 'Bosh Spice' by Skip Bayless and everything in between the spectrum of player criticism and observer lashings.
Imagine an alternate world where O'Neal was scrutinized for not having a jumpshot, and minimized because he can't score anywhere but the post. Wouldn't that be ludicrous? The reality is O'Neal had outstanding production in his career, so how he did it didn't matter. How Bosh plays shouldn't matter. The results do.
All of this led to questions summer after summer about how Bosh is trying to 'bulk up' and be more of a 'banger' inside, or whatever makes fans feel better about the big people on their team.
At 28, he has finally publicly accepted who he is as a player and has embraced the center position.
Bosh is a capable defender and rebounder, as his length and athleticism allow him to compensate for his lack of girth.
The Heat have nothing to worry about with Bosh at center.
What will his role be?
Bosh will be instrumental in creating space in the paint for the Heat's first two options, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Both wing players will get most of their offense attacking the basket, whether it be off the dribble or through posting up, and Bosh will play a role in spacing the floor for them.
Such is the inverted world of the Miami Heat, where it's starting wings operate out of the post and it's center is a jump shooter.
Although Bosh has a face-up game in the post himself, it's his ability to force opposing bigs to guard him from the mid-range area of the floor that makes him so valuable for Miami. Once there, he can take bigs off the dribble with his patented pump fake and finish at the rim, or shoot his feathery soft jumper, which he has converted at a rate of over 40 percent in every year of his career with the exception of his rookie season.
He's also an important player in the middle of the Heat's defense, one who has bought into the team's system and adequately performed, from trapping pick-and-rolls to switching and disrupting plays at the rim to plain old post defense, Bosh has pleasantly become a good defensive player in Miami, which wasn't part of his reputation as a Toronto Raptor.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Bosh is a well rounded player without a glaring weakness. Although it would be nice to get a little more than the eight rebounds per game Bosh has averaged in two seasons with the Heat, he's grabbed double digit boards three times in his career and averages nine for his career.
Offensively, Bosh is even working on adding a 3-pointer to his game, which could work wonders for the Heat's spacing and unlock even more versatility. Not that he will become a long distance sharpshooter, but shooting the shot above 30 percent would raise his True Shooting percentage and make life even more difficult for opponents. Bosh can thrive on the ball, or off the ball with the pick-and-roll or via cuts to the basket.
We've gotten to the first of the Heat's three All-Stars, where pointing to weaknesses feels like a stretch.
Bosh will be the starting center for the Eastern Conference at the All-Star game.