Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh Has Underrated Importance

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Chris Bosh

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For nearly four years now, Chris Bosh has been the odd man out of the Miami Heat’s proverbial “Big Three.”

Read any article, blog or piece on the Heat, and you will often find the trio mentioned as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

James and Wade are alpha dog superstars, who have Finals MVP awards and individual hardware under their belts, while Bosh plays third fiddle to his acclaimed counterparts.

Even as Bosh has outplayed Wade recently while the shooting guard has missed multiple games due to balky knees, Wade still manages to overshadow his 6-foot-11 teammate.

While it’s easy to view James and Wade as the go-to guys for the Heat due to their ball-dominant nature in a perimeter oriented league, there is no denying that Bosh is equally as important to this equation as his two superstar teammates.

Bosh’s contributions has been vastly underrated to the Heat’s success over the past few seasons. Fans and analysts alike trashed Bosh for being “soft” and cried for the Heat to acquire more of a traditional power forward (prior to winning the rings).

It wasn’t until the 2012 Eastern Semi-Finals when Bosh went down with an abdominal strain that people realized just how significant Bosh was to the Heat’s winning formula.

The Heat went 5-4 in Bosh’s absence during that postseason and proceeded to go 6-2 when he returned, culminating in the team’s first NBA championship of the Big Three era.

It has been Bosh’s versatility that has been instrumental to Miami’s success. The big man’s ability to play both the 4 and the 5 has given opposing defenses fits. Bosh is one of the few “centers” in the league that can stretch the floor and shoot from distance, which causes traditional big men to be removed from their element and chase Bosh all the way out to the perimeter.

Bosh is essentially the key ingredient to Miami’s “small ball” method that has lifted them to back-to-back titles.

Still, critics will use Bosh’s lackluster rebounding numbers and lack of All-Star-like scoring against him. But, these same people seem to forget that he’s naturally a power forward playing as an undersized center next to two alpha male wing players, who are used to leading their teams in scoring.

Despite what’s going against him, Bosh has managed to be a four-time All Star in a Heat uniform and been the catalyst for the Heat’s success.

In the past four years, Bosh’s average Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 19.6, which ranks him in the top three for any “third option” in the NBA. This season, Bosh’s PER of 19.80 ranks him only behind Serge Ibaka in terms of third options, but Ibaka has acted as the Thunder’s No. 2 in Russell Westbrook‘s absence.

Bosh is also top 30 in the NBA in Estimated Wins Added and Value Added, which is also tops in the league amongst third options.

On top of that, Bosh is posting his best True Shooting Percentage of the last four years despite attempting more than double the amount of three pointers this season than at any other point in his career.

Quite simply, it’s unfair to look at Bosh’s barely above average stat line of 16.5 points and seven boards. You have to look at the advanced metrics and Bosh’s efficiency to properly judge him, and account for the fact that he plays alongside a Hall-of-Fame duo.

When Bosh has been boosted to the second option this season during games Wade sits out, Bosh’s scoring improves to nearly 18 points per contest. During a recent stretch of Wade inactivity where he missed four consecutive games, Bosh averaged 23.3 points on 59 percent shooting after having an increased role in the Heat offense.

The fact is that Bosh steps up when necessary and is capable of putting up All-Star numbers at any time, but rarely gets the opportunity to do so.

Bosh is forced to go up against the likes of Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah and Andre Drummond on a nightly basis, but is still able to play good enough defense to keep the Heat in the game, while also outdueling most of his counterparts on the offensive end. Bosh is a finesse player who makes his living on jumpers, but still has the ability to score from the paint.

Without Bosh’s versatility in the Heat’s lineup over the past four years, the Heat’s results would likely have been a lot different. Bosh is 29-years-old and in the prime of his career, and would attract a maximum contract and No. 1 role on a lot of teams in the league if he wanted to go that route.

While LeBron and D-Wade get all the glory, they know they wouldn’t be sitting where they are today without their under appreciated teammate.

Bosh may be easy to goof on, but check the numbers because Bosh is the key member that makes this Big Three train run smoothly. Without him on the floor, the Heat just aren’t nearly as good.

Bosh is the piece that keeps this well-oiled machine going on a nightly basis.

Allen Levin works for the Miami Dolphins in Media Relations and has covered the NBA for 5 years, including the Orlando Magic beat with KnightNews.com. He has been published in Fox Sports, CBS Sports the Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel. Follow Allen on Twitter @TheNBAllen
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