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Posted on September 2, 2009 | 8 Comments
ESPN recently had an article predicting where the top players of the 2010 free agency class will go. ESPN writers voted where LeBron James, Dwane Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh would end up next season. Of the four players, only two made the playoffs last season, and Wade was clearly frustrated at his team’s lack of improvement over the summer. Stoudemire has been shopped seemingly constantly the last three years and is on a team that is clearly pinching it’s pennies. Even LeBron’s situation is not the greatest with a team many feel is not built to suit his style and many aging teammates.
Still, the majority of voters predicted that LeBron and Wade would stay with their current team and Phoenix was 2nd on the list for Amare, behind New York. On the other hand, and overwhelming majority felt Bosh would go elsewhere next season. It wasn’t even close. Out of 52 voters, only 3 predicted he would be in Toronto in 2011. Three. Behind New york, Miami, Chicago and Dallas and only slightly ahead Detroit, Los Angeles (both teams), San Antonio, Houston, New Jersey and Phoenix. In other words, people throwing darts up at a map of the US ended up just below those that said he would stay in Canada.
What is frustrating to Raptor fans is that this is even after the monumental job Bryan Colangelo did remaking the roster. In theory, the Raptors are a deeper and more talented team, now, than Miami and Phoenix, and if you take out LeBron, Cleveland, as well. Sure, the actual playing of the games might bring a whole new reality, but Colangelo has certainly made the Raptors a MUCH better team. Yet ESPN writer’s don’t believe there is much hope in Bosh re-signing.
As I wrote about in an earlier post, Toronto (and the rest of Canada), does not generally get that much respect in the American press. It’s pretty safe to say that a lot of the American journalists who don’t understand how fine our country is have never actually been here, at least for more than one day. The minority opinion is Mark Stein (I believe), who professes a love for Toronto that his colleagues must find bizarre. How little of a surprise would it be that Stein was one of the voters who thought Bosh might return to Toronto?
What makes the overwhelming vote against Toronto even more peculiar is the fact that Bosh has recently stated he would be, at least, open to an extension after digesting the offseason moves. A story which ESPN did not seem to report on, for some reason. It seems that most American writers don’t seem to understand why Bosh would even want to remain in Toronto when he can play for an American team.
Bosh was drafted in one of the stronger drafts in recent years, in a class that included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade. He made an immediate impact and was an excellent pick, despite then-franchise player, Vince Carter, pining for Raptors brass to trade the pick for veteran help. He ended up replacing Carter as the Raptors franchise player and became a perennial All-Star, and eventually made the All-NBA Second Team in 2007, the first Raptor to receive such an accolade since Air Canada, himself.
Still, many Raptor fans remain unconvinced. Despite his gaudy numbers (22 ppg, 10 rpg), Bosh has not shown the ability to `put the team on his back’ and carry his team to the playoffs. Many feel the only way Bosh will win anything is being the second banana to a better player. There are countless reasons why some fans don’t see Bosh being able to lead the Raptors to the promised land. Here are some of the most common:
Bosh Isn’t A Dominant Player
A big complaint among Raptor fans. Bosh doesn’t dominate like the other superstars do. Guys like Kobe and LeBron have the ability to carry subpar teams to the playoffs. They can truly dominate games and make teams fear them.
Reality: Yes, its true Bosh isn’t on par with guys like LeBron and Kobe, but guys like these come around very rarely. LeBron completely changed the fortunes of a dismal Cleveland team simply by walking onto the court. His availability in the draft had several teams gutting their rosters and throwing games (unofficially, of course) in order for the CHANCE to draft him. Still Bosh is a top 15 player with the chance of becoming a borderline top 5 player if he can have an entire season like he had during last October (26.4 ppg on .541 shooting and 10.2 rpg). That’s certainly better than most teams out there.
Bosh Isn’t Good In Crunch Time
With the game on the line, the Lakers have Kobe, Cleveland has LeBron, New Orleans has Chris Paul and the Raptors have, well, Chris Bosh, who miserably fails again and again in crunch time, proving every time he’s not the player he thinks he is. I’ve heard this complaint many times. Bosh isn’t a franchise player because he can’t finish games.
Reality: Well, this one is not as simple as some may think. Yes, Bosh did have the ball in crunch time on many occasions and failed on many occasions. The problem is, so did every other franchise player in the NBA, including Kobe and LeBron. Not even the great Michael Jordan was perfect in crunch time. In actual fact, Bosh did much better than average when he was trusted with the ball at the end of games. The problem was not his `clutch play’, but his role in crunch time. See, Bosh is a big man, and big men don’t usually do all that well with the clock winding down and the game on the line. It’s the nature of the game. Big men don’t generally don’t create very well, and that’s a necessity at the end of games, when defenses are tight. Hell, Shaq would often be completely taken out of the game at crunch time because of his inability to shoot free throws. Dwight Howard likewise can be a detriment to his team at the end of games because of his bad free throw shooting. Tim Duncan also hasn’t had a career of being a good free throw shooter. Thankfully, those guys have all had great guards or wing players to finish games. Neither Shaq, nor Duncan would have won their Championships without great guard play.
That’s the funny thing about winning, it takes a team. And the reason Bosh looked so bad a lot of times in crunch time was because he was being asked to do what most other big men are never asked to do. It was a necessity due to the weaknesses of the roster, yet Bosh critics try to use it as ammunition against him. It’s like trying to blame the farmer for a drought. He does what he can but there are some things out of his control.
Bosh Isn’t An Elite Player Because He Doesn’t Play Defense
All of the greatest players could dominate both ends of the court, especially big men. Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard don’t have to score to effect a game. They alter the game with their interior defense. Bosh doesn’t do this.
Reality: I will fully admit that Bosh does not seem to put as much care into his defense as his offense, but he’s actually not a bad defender. In fact, he has the ability to be a good defender. He showed it when he came into the league and seemed to have an understanding of how to play good defense, especially team defense, and he showed it when he was on the recent Olympic team and was put into the role of defender/rebounder. I read one complaint that pointed to Bosh’s defense in a game against Troy Murphy that this person claimed as an example of why Bosh was a bad defender. Well, first of all, it’s one game. Secondly, some players give other players fits because of the type of player they are. Bosh may have trouble guarding guys like Murphy.
Bosh does need to focus more on the defensive end if he wants to take his team anywhere, but he does have the ability to do so. No one was talking about LeBron’s defense two years ago (at least not in a complimentary way). This past season he was on the All-Defensive First Team, ahead of guys like Shane Battier and Ron Artest. It’s certainly an attainable goal for Bosh to become a good defender.
On the other hand, one just has to look at Dirk Nowitzki to realize that being a dominant defender is not necessary. He’s never made the All Defensive Team, yet led his team to the Finals.
Many critics want to trade Bosh because the Raptors will never win if he’s their best player. The problem with that theory is that he’s one of the two best players the Raptors have ever had, so it’s obvious that `even’ players of Bosh’s calibre don’t come around very often. Look at a team like Milwaukee, that has not had a truly great player on the team since Sidney Moncrief twenty five years ago, and he is never even mentioned among the all-time greats. The last time Atlanta had a top tier player was Dominique Wilkins twenty years ago, and he wasn’t among the top 50 players when the list was compiled. The Clippers haven’t had a great player on their team since they moved to Los Angeles, and as far as I can remember, since they moved out west.
Players of Bosh’s calibre don’t come around very often, but player’s of LeBron and Kobe’s calibre come around even more rarely. Since LeBron doesn’t look like he’s going to be signing with Toronto next season, the Raptors HAVE to build around Bosh because he’s who they have. I made a comment on Raptors Blog that perfectly summed up Bosh’s situation:
“As for Bosh, I have no idea whether he can win where he’s the best player on the team. History says probably not, because generally only MVP calibre players on great defensive teams win. Of course, before Detroit in the 80′s, no guard oriented team had ever won. Before the Bulls won, no team without an All-Star center ever won. Before the 90′s Detroit team won, no team without a current or former All-NBA team member won. And before Miami won, no team without a player on the All-Defensive team ever won.
What that all says is that a Bosh-led team won’t win. Unless it does.”
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