by Adam Figman / @afigman

Chris Bosh was in a fortunate, enviable place this past June. As a free agent in a buyer’s market, he’d be getting paid. A wide range of teams and players wanted him on their side, so he’d have his pick of wherever he felt he’d have the best chance of winning a title. After uniting with one superstar, a second decided to join, and the pieces were in place. You remember this, I imagine.

Before he brought his respective talents to South Beach, the first knock against Chris was that he didn’t deserve max money—that he hasn’t proven he’s good enough to hold the top spot on a competing team, so top dollars he didn’t deserve. Fair enough. The deepest a Bosh-led crew has traveled in postseason action is the first round, and with plenty of assistance (Hedo Turkoglu, Andrea Bargnani, José Calderón and Jarrett Jack) in ’09-10, the Raptors failed to make the Playoffs. (CB4 averaged 24 and 11, both career highs, during the season.) If a squad that stacked can’t get out of the Lottery, perhaps the Dallas-raised 26 year old wasn’t bred to be a Head Captain, a surround-him-with-a-supporting-cast-and-you’re-set kind of guy. He puts up numbers, but leadership might not be his strong suit. Maybe he’s better off as a Robin.

Hold that thought.

So this summer he went to play with his buddies Dwyane and LeBron in Florida—where each member of the triumvirate signed $100 million-plus deals. And there’s the fashionable second knock against him: that he (and his superfriends) wimped out, choosing pleasure and fun over competition and adversity. A just critique of LBJ and DWade’s choices, both of whom have to protect legacies that’ll remain relevant far beyond their tenures on the court. But for Bosh, it wasn’t only the most exciting move; it was the most logical one. If the Heat fail, it’s no longer on him, an adjustment that’ll lift what was clearly a burdensome weight off his back. And when they succeed it’ll be in large part due to his contribution, as the third option is still a vital one on a contender—especially one so devoid of weapons beyond its starting lineup.

Now he’s finagled himself into this ideal arrangement, where he can fulfill his long-awaited destiny. At times he’ll step up and be the man, which he’s shown he can do on occasion. But for the most part, James and Wade will be the stars, while Bosh will be utilized as a glorified role player on a team able to use a five-time All Star as a freakin’ role player. He’ll be great at it, and if you think there’s a chance Miami as a whole won’t also be great, you’re probably overlooking the skill set this guy brings to the table.

Some were confused as to why the lanky power forward was so desired this offseason, which might stem from how difficult his game is to pin down. As far as bigs go, he can’t shoot like Dirk; can’t finish like Amar’e; can’t body folks like Dwight and Shaq; and doesn’t have a trademark like Tim’s post-game or KG’s intensity. Bosh fits slyly in between all of ’em. Guard him close? He’ll blow by you. Leave him open? He’ll bury the J. Give him a little space? He’ll shoot over you. Dude can take slow-footed fours and fives off the dribble, can pound smaller defenders down low, and can gracefully knock down open or contested jumpers when tested to do so. It all makes him a boring superhero (how many kids do you think have Chris Bosh jerseys hanging on their walls?), but a perfect sidekick, one who can do what’s needed, however necessary.

Which is all to say that his location in our Top 50 is perfect. To be straight up, he doesn’t belong in the Top 10—not if he can’t be the first option on a playoff team. He sat at this exact ranking last year, and had he brought his squad to the postseason and put together a strong run, he probably would’ve cracked single digits this go-around. He didn’t, but his solid personal output gave us no reason to slide him down.

That said, I don’t know if 13 suits him anymore. As of late he’s been pretty damn lucky.

Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 10 9
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 9 8
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 8 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 7 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR
David Lee Warriors PF 34 NR 10 NR
Brook Lopez Nets C 33 NR 2 NR
Gerald Wallace Bobcats SF 32 NR 7 NR
Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 31 29 6 7
Tony Parker Spurs PG 30 15 9 3
Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 29 13 9 3
Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 28 44 6 9
Josh Smith Hawks PF 27 40 8 13
Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 26 26 5 6
Al Jefferson Jazz PF 25 23 7 7
Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 24 NR 8 NR
Chauncey Billups Nuggets PG 23 19 7 5
Tyreke Evans Kings PG 22 NR 6 NR
Danny Granger Pacers SF 21 21 5 5
Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 20 32 6 9
Paul Pierce Celtics SF 19 17 4 4
Joe Johnson Hawks SG 18 20 4 4
Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 17 27 5 8
Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 16 16 5 6
Steve Nash Suns PG 15 22 4 6
Tim Duncan Spurs PF 14 6 4 1
Chris Bosh Heat PF 13 13 3 4

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.