Chris Bosh heads back to the post

LeBron James effectively made Chris Bosh a glorified spot-up shooter.

Yes, Bosh still made the All-Star Game (and has made the All-Star game for the last eight years), but how much of that had to do with his being a member of the Heat and their attention-gathering, winning ways.

Bosh had to fill a role for that team. It was to be a big who can stretch the floor and score on his own when called upon.

The one thing Bosh was rarely used in the post. His whole game transformed from a versatile post scorer who could step out to shoot to a glorified spot-up shooter in the Heat’s free-wheeling, LeBron James dominated offense.

In some circles, Bosh was the weak link. He was unable to rebound and bang in the post consistently as a center and did not have the athleticism to be a trust stretch-4. Miami always lacked that rim-protecting center. And Bosh just was not asked to do much more than stand in the corner and make shots when the opportunities arose.

In his seven years in Toronto, Bosh averaged 20.2 points per game and took 0.3 3-point attempts per game. In his four years in Miami, he is averaging 17.3 points per game and is taking 1.2 3-point attempts per game (a 300 percent increase from his Toronto days). His field goal percentage was better, as one might expect, thanks to the space LeBron James and Dwyane Wade could provide with their constant forays to the basket.

Bosh’s usage rate from his All-Star days in Toronto to his third-wheel days in Miami feel from 25.0 percent to 23.2 percent. His field goal attempts per game went down (as expected) from 14.4 to 13.0 per game — a 9.7 percent decrease. Things were different in Miami. Take a look at his shot chart from his last year in Toronto compared to last year in Miami: ChrisBoshShotChart2010   ChrisBoshShotChart2014 You can see from these two shot charts just how much Bosh left the paint.

In his final year in Toronto, Bosh took 41 percent of his shots right at the rim and virtually none outside the paint (even though he was capable). Last year in Miami, he took 32 percent of his shots right at the rim, but his shot chart is more varied with him taking more 3-pointers (particularly from the right wing) and working at the left elbow more. That is a function of a free-wheeling offense that had him cutting off the ball more off of James and Wade or spotting up on pick and rolls.

He played a very different role than the one in Toronto where he was relied on as the primary scoring option.

Now with James gone, Bosh is getting the ball more. There is no other way around it. He signed a max contract and is still a player capable of living up to that billing. And now he will be used in a way that he has not been before in Miami. You can tell Bosh is excited, as he told Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

“I had to play a role. I had to play the role for the championships. I feel that I’m back to doing what comes naturally for me, which is being back in the post, being more aggressive. I’m really excited to show the city of Miami what I have.”

Bosh hopes that playing down low is like riding a bike. His comparison not mine. Bosh is listed at 235 pounds still. He is hardly going to be a bruiser. Not that he was one before.

The question goes much more into what kind of offense the Heat are going to run.

Last year, the Heat went through a much-scrutinized plan to rest Dwyane Wade. He appeared in only 54 games, his fewest since 2008 (excluding the lockout year in 2012). His 19.0 points per game were his lowest since his rookie year. James took on a lot more of the scoring and playmaking load. Bosh was sort of left as a true third wheel as part of an offense he may not have really fit into.

Wade may not go through the same rest program he did last year. There still remains questions of just how effective he can be. He probably is not as capable of being the central focus of the offense on a night-in, night-out basis as he has been for much of his career.

Could that put the offensive onus more on Bosh?

It certainly seems more than possible. It seems more than possible, it seems downright probable.

This new Miami Heat team is going to have to fill a pretty major hole and come up with a new identity. Luol Deng will be there to help, but he has his own injury/overuse issues that Erik Spoelstra will have to manage. When the dice get rolled, it seems to be that Chris Bosh is going to end up being the Heat’s most reliable option this season.

Spoelstra will have to take advantage of that and change the Heat’s offense to support him.

This will not be the same motion offense relying heavily on one ball handler wreaking havoc in the paint with shooters all around him/them. It is going to have to be more traditional — both on the offensive and defensive end. The Heat simply do not have the players to continue their crazed fast breaking, swarming defensive style.

This team is going to have to be a bit more balanced and a bit more methodical. That probably means they are going to need Bosh to play more like a big than he has the last four years. Bosh should be back in the driver’s seat for Miami, used to spread the floor only when Wade drives to the basket or in the pick and roll.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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