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How Hassan Whiteside's emergence has affected Chris Bosh: Part 1 - History

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Many have yet to really consider this when examining Bosh's entire NBA career, but he's hardly ever played with an even above-average center.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The emergence of center Hassan Whiteside has been well documented at this point. There are many pieces here at Hot Hot Hoops and elsewhere where you can catch up on his rather unprecedented story from NBA flameout to what now amounts to a lottery talent (heck, maybe number one overall pick talent) for the Miami Heat.

What's become a little lost in the shuffle, but at the same time lamented in recent losses to Minnesota and Dallas the play of Chris Bosh. On the surface, Bosh has had some shooting struggles and seems less engaged in general. Much of this is simply explained by the scores of double teams Bosh has had to deal with due to the absence of Dwyane Wade, but what many fail to consider is in both Toronto and Miami, Bosh has been, by far, the best big man on the floor for his team and for the first time in his career, he's flanked by a center who can truly affect a game on both ends of the floor.

For part one of this article, we're gonna go down memory lane and look at Chris Bosh's career and the teammates of his that would man the middle for him.

During his rookie year, the 19-year old Bosh was the designated center on the roster. They traded former All-Star Antonio Davis 15 games into the 2003 season and were left with a motley crew of Corey Blount, Lonny Baxter, and Robert Archibald. The next season, Bosh became the full-time power forward and was flanked by the duo of Rafael Araujo & Loren Woods. Bosh did play the nominal center spot in lineups featuring a then-unknown Matt Bonner, who had a nice rookie year. The 2005-2006 season was Chris Bosh's first of 10 All-Star selections, but his big men in arms were the exact same players putting up the exact same middling statistics.

The next season was the first time Chris Bosh had some semblance of reinforcements with Rasho Nesterovic, the underrated Jorge Garbajosa, and number one overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani giving Toronto some real size and skill. Still, all three of these big men were more perimeter oriented & Chris Bosh, in turn, averaged a career high 10.7 rebounds per game. Toronto won the Atlantic Division with a 47-35 record, more due to Bosh's improved play coupled with the acquisitions of TJ Ford & Anthony Parker than his help at center.

Toronto fell off a bit the next year at 41-41, but still made the playoffs. Bargnani started most of that season, but didn't make the leap fans were hoping for. Nesterovic was still there to make a midrange jumper, but Bosh was again shouldering the load and ended up the player who guarded Dwight Howard in crunch time during their first round series against the Orlando Magic. Bosh averaged 24.0 points, 9.0 rebounds & 3.6 assists, but lost in five games.

It took five seasons, but Toronto finally went and acquired a legitimate big man in Jermaine O'Neal to pair with Bosh. O'Neal and his massive contract were acquired in exchange for TJ Ford and spare parts (interestingly a 1st rounder that became Roy Hibbert as well). Sadly, the experiment was deemed a failure by GM Bryan Colangelo 55 games into the year and O'Neal, as many of you will remember, was sent here to Miami in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Toronto limped to a 33-49 record despite another 20-10 season out of Bosh. He had just 41 games of Jermaine O'Neal and 27 games of Marion (who went on to join the Mavericks that offseason). Once O'Neal left, Bargnani regained his spot (Toronto also tried three big man lineups with Bosh, Bargnani and O'Neal together early in the season) and put up improved numbers (15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds), but still had a negative net rating (105 O, 110 D = -5) and 14.6 PER (15.0 is average).

The 2009-2010 season would feature a full-time pairing of Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani again had a negative net rating despite his counting stats and Bosh would have his best statistical season at 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Toronto would miss the playoffs at 40-42.

We're all aware of the next phase of Chris Bosh's career. I won't go on a season-by-season recap of each big man Miami had as the names speak for themselves: Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier, Jamaal Magloire, Ronny Turiaf, Dexter Pittman, Eddy Curry, Josh Harrellson and Greg Oden.

It's interesting to remember Miami's smallball dominance was birthed by accident, as Chris Bosh's injury in the Eastern Conference Semifinals forced Shane Battier to start and when Bosh returned, he was the center with a newfound three point stroke.

The only true gem among the bargain bin of centers at the time was Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who signed early in 2013. However he and Bosh didn't play much together until the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers and their big frontline, with Andersen usually backing up Bosh and giving Miami a different look on offense.

This past season, Bosh was again designated the center and was to be paired with Josh McRoberts, but nagging injuries before a season-ending meniscus injury stopped that in its path. His replacement, Shawne Williams, was a sweet shooter early on, but Miami's defense badly lagged with this permutation. The team eventually opted to go the traditional route, with Bosh at power forward, and Chris Andersen at center. Eventually Hassan Whiteside fell onto the team's lap and made the philosophy of a traditional starting five more tenable.

If you weren't interested in the history lesson on the mid-2000s Toronto Raptors, just know of all the big men I listed only Rasho Nesterovic, Jermaine O'Neal, and Andrea Bargnani posted a PER above 15.0 in a season. In Miami, only Chris Andersen. PER is far from a definitive rating to define a player's worth (it's generally much kinder to ball-dominating guards than big men), but I would challenge anyone to find a metric that support the aforementioned players.

The point is simply Chris Bosh has very little experience playing with a true big man who can do things in the post and in the paint and this adjustment may take time for him.

Stay tuned for part two, where I examine Bosh's and the team's before and after Whiteside numbers.