SLAM Top 50: Chris Bosh, No. 46

This is a weird place in the rankings for Chris Bosh to wind up, but I guess that’s what happens when no one has any idea what to expect from him this coming season.

When he’s on the court, Bosh is one of the 20 best players in the world. He’s the perfect big man for today’s NBA, a dynamo who can single-handily generate offense, and do so efficiently (19.1 points per game last season on 47 percent shooting), and space the floor with his silky smooth stroke (37 percent from deep).

He’s a brilliant team defender, too, a 6-11 big man with long arms and quick feet. Bosh is agile enough to stifle opposing guards above the arc. He doesn’t block a lot of shots, but his understanding of angles and body positioning makes him a more than adequate rim protector.

My favorite aspect of Bosh’s game, though, is just how willing he is to relinquish the spotlight to others. We saw it when LeBron came, and even after the Big Three era, when Wade was still around. Simply put: Bosh is the ultimate team player, in both spirit and skill set. He might not be good enough to be the best player on a championship contender. But you’d be hard-pressed to name 15 guys you’d prefer as a No. 2.

His skills can mesh with any player on any team. His personality—that easy-going yet competitive mind fascinated by both basketball and the entire world around him—would be welcomed in any locker room. With him in the fold, the Heat could just maybe challenge the Cavaliers come playoff time.

The problem, of course, is we have no idea if the 32-year-old Bosh will be able to play a single game this season, and right there is why we have him in a sort-of no man’s land of these rankings.

By now, you’re likely familiar with Bosh’s health concerns. Blood clots were discovered in his lungs following the 2015 All-Star Game. He spent weeks in bed and lost 13 pounds. He returned to the court last season but was told that if the clots resurfaced, his career would likely be over. Another clot, this time in his leg, was discovered prior to the 2016 All-Star Game. Bosh was forced to miss the rest of the year.

Except he wasn’t ready to quit playing the game he loves. He said he found a doctor who told him he could return to the court; the Heat, reportedly, were told by the doctors they consulted that Bosh could face a fatal injury if he stepped back on to the floor. The two sides exchanged public statements. The NBA Players Association got involved. Bosh sat out the remainder of the year and the Playoffs and still, today, nothing has been resolved.

Bosh wants to play. The Heat, ostensibly for fear of what could happen to him if he does, believe the safe route is for him to continue sitting out—at least for another few months.

And so here we are, with the 2016-17 season less than two months away from tipping off, and still no idea whether we’ll ever see Chris Bosh play in the NBA again. My hope is that Bosh does come back and come next year we see him return to the top-20 of these rankings.

My fear, though, is that this winds up being the last time we see Bosh’s name show up in this space.

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2016-17—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

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