by Ben Taylor / @benitaylor
Let’s get this out of the way. Chris Bosh probably isn’t your favorite player. He’s not mine either. There will be plenty of people reading this who want to know why he should be ranked higher than Zach Randolph, or Paul Pierce, or whoever.
The thing with a guy like Bosh is that it can be hard to see the player through the peripheral stuff—the goofiness, the passing resemblance to a dinosaur, the crying in the locker room, the “soft” jibes, being the “third wheel.”
And while it might be more fun to turn him into a GIF—God knows his facial expressions, interview bombs, and the champagne shower are the stuff of internet legend—that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve some respect as a player.
Last year we had him at 17 (after a Finals loss in which he was the Heat’s most important player), and as the third option on his team—with teammate LeBron James having an otherworldly season at both ends of the floor—Bosh finished the season with 18 points and 8 rebounds per game, another All-Star appearance and a Championship.
While LeBron and DWade were dominating games and headlines, Bosh went about his business efficiently and effectively—using his time with the ball wisely, taking smart shots, creating space for his guys. But when they needed him to step up, he showed—just as he has his entire career—that he could be relied upon to put up points and make plays.
LeBron was the man on that team, no doubt, but even the greatest player on the planet had to acknowledge that Bosh was irreplaceable to the Heat last year.
Think back to the regular season. With Dwyane Wade on the sideline with injury, Bosh stepped up and helped the Heat to a 12-1 streak—the former Raptor averaged nearly 24 points per game on 57 percent shooting.
And then there was his Eastern Conference Finals comeback. Returning to the lineup after injury, Bosh sealed a place in the Finals for the Heat by shutting down Kevin Garnett at one end of the floor, and opening up the game at the other—his clutch outside shooting prevented the Cs from being able to double up on James and Wade. It was much the same story against the Thunder, where he made Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins a non-factor, despite being at less than 100 percent healthy for the entire series. The rest, as they say, is GIF history.
But, I hear you—that was last year, and the SLAMonline Top 50 is about the here and now. So, what is Bosh going to do this season to justify his place in the top 20?
He’s going to move full-time to center, creating match-up problems for the rest of the League’s bigs, who will be forced to decide whether to guard Bosh’s outside shooting or to fill the lane to cover James and Wade.
He’s going to average in the region of 20 and 10, despite the fact that LeBron will have an even more ridiculous season than last year, and he’ll be third in line for the ball again.
He’s going to make another All-Star team.
Most importantly, he’s going to be an even better bail-out guy for the Heat than last year, as they head toward their second consecutive NBA title.
|SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012|
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.