Without LeBron James, Chris Bosh’s Role Set to Evolve Again for Miami Heat

When Chris Bosh came to the Miami Heat back in the summer of 2010, he did so as one of the best and most well-rounded scorers in basketball. He was coming off a season in which he averaged 24.0 points per game on 51.8 percent shooting, mostly while feasting on a heavy diet of post-ups and isolation plays while mixing in the occasional pick-and-roll or spot-up opportunity.

Play Type via Synergy Sports (Subscription Required) % of Plays Points Per Play
Post-up 34.9% 1.09
Isolation 18.2% 0.92
P&R Roll Man 11.9% 1.24
Spot-up 9.9% 0.88

That all changed rather quickly over the last few years as he played with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Not only did Bosh sacrifice in terms of scoring opportunities and points per game average, but he became almost strictly a finisher, rarely ever posting or isolating compared to what he did with the Raptors

Year Post-up Isolation P&R Roll Man Spot-up
2009-10 34.9% 18.2% 11.9% 9.9%
2010-11 22.5% 13.4% 19% 18.5%
2011-12 21.7% 9.5% 14.4% 21.8%
2012-13 12.2% 5.5% 18.3% 33.2%
2013-14 7.1% 5.3% 19% 33.7%

His post-up and isolation opportunities went by the wayside as he became more and more of a supplementary player to James and Wade, but he also managed to do this by becoming increasingly efficient despite moving farther away from the basket. Bosh had a 56.9 True Shooting Percentage in his first season with the Heat, but that number increased nearly every season thereafter, and he wound up at 59.7 percent last season. 

He started creating less and less often for himself, instead concentrating on finishing plays, and it made him a more efficient shooter. Bosh was assisted on just south of half of his baskets the season before he came to Miami; 49.8 percent to be exact, according to NBA.com. In his first four years on South Beach, that percentage rose with each passing season: 60.3 percent in 2010-11; 64.9 percent in 2011-12; 76.7 percent in 2012-13; and 80.1 percent in 2013-14. 

For his part, Bosh is satisfied with the transition he’s made as a player. He told ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh last season

Everybody’s like, ‘We need CB4.’ And I’m like, that’s dead. He’s dead. He’s not coming back. This is me. I can’t hold on to the past and think I’m going to be who I was back then. It’s impossible. Because I’m much better now.

Of course, that was all in a world where he played with James, and he no longer has that luxury. While ‘CB4′ may not be making a comeback, Bosh will have to go back to being, if not a true number one scoring option, then at least a 1-A along with Wade.

It’s extremely unlikely that such a large portion of Bosh’s shots this coming season will be a result of spot-up opportunities as they were the last few years. He’ll have to start posting up more often again, creating shots for himself instead of being just a finisher. He’ll likely have more isolations sent his way. It’s entirely possible a pick-and-roll for Wade and Bosh becomes the go-to play for Miami on any trip down the floor, where over the last few years it was usually an outlet option after anything involving James.

While it may not look that way at first glance, there is a slight difference between the two. 

It’s a rare thing to have to do, going from a number one option to number three and now transition back again. Bosh made one of the more unusual sacrifices in the league over the last few years by subjugating his game to accommodate two high-usage teammates, and it may take some time to revert to previous practices.

In order to ease the transition, the Heat may have to dial back the heavy defensive pressure that became their trademark during the James era. The Heat blitzed pick-and-roll ball-handlers with reckless abandon, hoping to force them into cross-court passes and use their athleticism to disrupt the flow of the offense and hopefully get out in transition for an easy basket. 

Bosh was one of the main keys to this defense, his unusual quickness and ability to cover space for a big man helping facilitate all that trapping and recovering. Bosh was able to fly all over the floor rather than stay near the rim because the Heat had two excellent shot-blocking wings in James and Wade to help protect the basket. 

With James gone and Luol Deng in his place, it’s not quite the same. Deng’s a wonderful defender, but he’s more of a wing-stopper type than a hyper-athletic dynamo who’s going to be challenging guys at the basket. The defense will have to change both to suit his style and to take some of the load off of Bosh, who will have to save some of his energy for the opposite end of the floor now. 

Erik Spoelstra dialed back the pressure some throughout last season to save James, Wade and Bosh’s legs (and also because some teams in the league figured out how best to counter that pressure, namely the Spurs), but a wholesale change might be necessary to cope with this new world order.

Whatever the new system, Bosh’s ability to defend in space will again be key to making it work. He was not known as a defender before he made his way to south Florida, but over the last few years he has become known as one of the best-defending bigs in the game, even as he has not turned himself into much of a shot-blocker.

Eating up space has become just as valuable as defending a certain piece of a real estate, if not more so, in the era of spacing and shooting and corner threes. Bosh is one of the best at it. How he balances that with a likely new-found prominence in the offense will go a long way towards determining if the Heat will remain contenders or just stay on the fringes of the playoff race. 

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Clues from Chris Bosh’s Raptors Days Can Help Miami Heat Next Season

One of the primary questions hanging over the Miami Heat’s 2014-15 season is how Chris Bosh will acquit himself as the team’s chief offensive weapon, which, with LeBron James in Cleveland and Dwyane Wade on the wane, is presumably what he’ll be.

To a great extent, the Heat’s year will hinge on how well Bosh performs in this new, expanded role. If he can produce like a star, Miami might turn out quite a bit better than the 44-win/No. 6 seed projection ESPN.com’s summer forecasters have it pegged for. If he plays like a third option who’s been thrust by attrition into a larger role than he’s fit for, the Heat could struggle mightily.

“I want to see if I can do what’s necessary to go in there and win every night,” Bosh told The Associated Press (via Tim Reynolds of NBC 6 South Florida) after James decamped. “That’s the challenge of being a leader. It excites me. It’s been a long time, and I feel like I’m a much better player and a leader now, so it’ll be fun.”

So how will it turn out? Bosh’s time as a Toronto Raptor is instructive here. While it was five years, two titles and 13,000 NBA minutes ago, Bosh’s Raptor career can provide some clues as to how he will handle the heavier offensive load.

First, it’s worth revisiting just how effective Bosh was in Toronto. Over the course of his seven seasons north of the border, CB4 averaged 20.2 points and 9.4 rebounds. And he accomplished this while carrying a team whose roster oscillated between putrid and mediocre.

Consider the performance Bosh submitted in 2006-07, his age 22 season. He averaged 22.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and led the Raptors to a 47-35 record—then a tie for the best mark in franchise history—and the Atlantic Division crown. He was rewarded with a second-team All-NBA berth.

This was a remarkable feat. The Raptors second best player that season—by measure of Basketball-Reference.com’s win shares—was Anthony Parker, who was 31 years old and had just spent the previous six seasons playing professional basketball in Israel. Goodness, Andrea Bargnani played over 1,600 minutes for that group.

This was a bad basketball team. And Bosh, through sheer force of will—and a lot of points and rebounds—somehow got them to 47 wins, earning Bryan Colangelo Executive of the Year and Sam Mitchell Coach of the Year. (Those are Chris Bosh’s awards. They should rightly be sitting in his trophy case right now.)

But what was most interesting about Bosh’s efficacy in Toronto—and what augers well for his chances of carrying Miami’s offense this coming season—wasn’t just its extent but its nature. Though Bosh is now widely, and rightly, known for his mid-range game, in the early parts of his career, he played much closer to the basket.

In the aforementioned 2006-07 campaign, Bosh attempted 34.8 percent of his shots from within three feet of the hoop, according to Basketball-Reference.com. For his Raptors career, Bosh took 34.2 percent of his shots from that close range, compared to just 27.5 since he landed in South Beach.

There’s reason to think that, with the Miami offense running through Bosh in 2014-15, he’ll return to these roots. For starters, playing along LeBron and Wade, Bosh’s mid-range shooting created a synergy that drove the Miami offense. His ability to knock down 18-footers pulled opposing bigs away from the paint, opening slashing lanes for James and Wade, in turn creating more space for Bosh to shoot.

But with LeBron LeGone, and Bosh presumably responsible for more direct point creation, the mid-range game is too inefficient to make up a large percentage of his shots. Bosh will have to return to the paint.

Fortunately for Miami, there’s reason to believe he will thrive there. Last season, according to NBA.com, the center finished fourth among qualified players in field-goal percentage from within five feet of the basket. Only LeBron, Kevin Durant and Deandre Jordan bettered Bosh’s 69.7 percent mark from that range. Suffice it to say, that’s good company.

If Bosh can shoot more often from that range without forfeiting much efficiency, he’ll give the Miami O a serious—and seriously needed—post-James boost.

This proximity to the basket could also have a secondary effect that benefits Bosh and the Heat. According to the Washington Post’Seth Partnow, Bosh’s rebounding could get a boost:

As a primary scoring option this season, one with more low- and mid-post scoring chances, Bosh will likely end up close to the basket. This in turn will likely increase his ability to secure offensive rebounds.

In Toronto, while Bosh was more active around the bucket, he had an offensive-rebounding percentage of 8.5. In Miami, it dropped to 6.1.

This all points to a conclusion Bosh would be wise to keep top of mind this season. If he hopes to keep the Heat’s prospects from going south, he needs to remember the lessons he learned north of the border.

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Jordan Brand and Chris Paul Collaborate to Create New CP3.VIII Shoes

Chris Paul knows that a player’s shoes can make a big difference on the court, and thanks to Jordan Brand, the Los Angeles Clippers point guard will have a new model that can give him an edge this upcoming season.

On Wednesday, Jordan Brand unveiled the new Jordan CP3.VIII sneakers. Paul had a lot of say in the designing process, as he wants shoes that will help give him an edge over his opponents.

Here’s what Paul had to say on the importance of a player’s shoes, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell:

Paul’s latest signature shoe will not only be about him, as he was also able to include his family. As a way “[to pay] tribute to the patriarchs of the Paul family,” a family tree was put on the inside of the tongue of the shoe. 

Given that Paul uses his speed and quickness to perform at a high level, the shoe needed to be able to help him in those areas. The shoes are lightweight but still provide stability for the player.

The shoes will be available in two color schemes: black/infrared 23/white and cool grey/white/black. Here is a look at one of the colorways:

The Jordan CP3.VIII shoes will be sold for $130 starting on Nov. 1.

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Chris Bosh Uses His Photobombing Skills on Matthew McConaughey at the Emmys

Chris Bosh gets paid the big bucks for what he does on the basketball court, but if he could get paid for photobombing people, he could make a pretty good living doing that.

The Miami Heat star took his photobombing talents to the 2014 Emmys. It doesn’t look like actor Matthew McConaughey was ready for what Bosh was bringing to the event.

Bosh didn’t do anything silly like he has done with his Heat teammates in the past, but his presence in the background was enough for him to earn a passing grade. 

For those who want to see more of what Bosh wore to the Emmys, here you go:

[ESPN, Chris Bosh; h/t Next Impulse Sports]

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What the Los Angeles Clippers Need from Chris Paul Next Season

Arguably the top point guard in the entire league, Chris Paul has helped transform the Los Angeles Clippers into one of the league’s elite teams. While Paul has been nothing short of awesome, Doc Rivers needs a more unique version of the elite point guard. Especially if the Clippers are to reach the franchise’s first conference finals.

Make no mistake, Paul’s talents are a major reason for the Clippers’ turnaround over the past three seasons. However, the postseason results have been disappointing. Paul needs to refine his game and adjust his tendency to dominate the ball.

Last season Doc Rivers proved to Paul that increasing the tempo and limiting his control over the ball improved the team. Mainly, because Blake Griffin was ready to help Paul carry the load offensively.

Paul’s talents are remarkable, but even the most talented players need help getting to the top. The fire that burns within Paul’s competitive soul help make him a fearless leader, but talent, chemistry and a little bit of luck are what win titles. The talent is now available but one last thing is missing; a change in philosophy.

 

Paul’s Past

Despite Paul’s immense talents he has never led his team past the second round of the playoffs. Widely regarded as one of the 10 best players in the league for years, his playoff results are underwhelming. Some of that blame can be placed on his supporting cast, but the common denominator is Paul.

According to basketball-reference.com, Paul’s playoff averages of 20.6 points, 9.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals are extraordinary. Unfortunately, the underlying theme behind those statistics revolve around his penchant for dominating the ball.

Again, his ball dominance ties in with his lack of a superior supporting cast. The main problem has always been the lack of another high-usage scorer.

The chart above tells all. David West was Paul’s highest usage sidekick until arriving in Los Angeles. West has never been mistaken for someone that can create his own shot, let alone set up his teammates for baskets.

Those not listed include 46 games of Marcus Thornton, Jarrett Jack, Jannero Pargo, Peja Stojakovic again. The picture is pretty clear, Paul needed help.

Even after joining the Clippers in 2011, not much changed. Paul finally had someone who could create offense and score 20 points per game, but needed to be fed the ball in certain areas on the floor to score. That mean a ball dominant Paul had to take control of the offense, especially in the playoffs.

Much like with the New Orleans Hornets, defenses were able to key on Paul, taking away his passing lanes and forcing the 6’0” point guard to win games nearly single-handedly. Yet again, Paul has been unable to advance out of the second round. For all of Paul’s talents, it would be nearly impossible for him to win multiple playoff series each season on his own.

 

A New Paul

The arrival of Doc Rivers provided instantaneous legitimacy for the franchise. Rivers is passionate, sensible and brutally honest. Chris Paul found this out immediately, according to Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears.

As professional athletes, you always want someone to push you and motivate you, Paul said. The first meeting I had with Doc, he pretty much told me I wasn’t anything. He told me I hadn’t done anything in this league, and he was right. You don’t always want somebody that’s going to tell you what you want to hear.

Reflecting on this quote brings clarification to the entire 2013-14 Clippers season. Rivers needed to breakdown the undesirable habits and attitudes of the players on his new roster. He needed to mold their talents into a new system that took pressure off Paul, gave Blake Griffin more offensive responsibility, kept the floor spread and featured DeAndre Jordan as the defensive anchor.

Paul seemed hesitant early, as Rivers preached tempo, speed and sharing the ball. It was not until Paul missed a month of action with a separated shoulder, that he fully appreciated what Rivers was preaching. Largely, because he was able to see the offense excel without him.

According to NBA.com, from January 4 until Paul’s return on February 9, the Clippers were second in the league in scoring and had a plus-8.1 scoring differential. Rivers’ system was dynamic and lethal, because the team was playing fast and spreading the floor around Griffin.

Every game Paul missed, the league’s best point guard had a front-row seat to Rivers’ explosive offense despite his presence on the floor. The more the team pushed tempo and shared the ball, the more difficult the offense was to defend.

Paul now completely understood his role in the offense and the transition upon his return was seamless, mentioned ESPN’s J.A. Adande.

He still has the ball in his hand a lot, Rivers said. We want him to have the ball; he’s the best player in the league with it. But we also feel like it’s harder to guard him when he gives it up and comes back, and then they can’t load up.

So how do the Clippers improve upon last season? It starts with Paul. The lessons he learned during his first season with Rivers are vital to the success the team seeks this season.

Griffin has proven that he can carry the load along with Paul. No longer will there be a need for Paul to create every shot after pounding the ball into the floor for 15 seconds, waiting for someone to come free for an assist.

The offense can flow through Griffin, forcing the defense to shift to Paul coming of rubs and screens. Griffin’s much-improved jumper now gives Paul one of the best pick-and-roll/pop partners in the league.

Most important of all, Paul has a leader on the sidelines. Someone to hold everyone else accountable so he can focus on playing basketball. Someone for the team’s heart and soul to believe in. A man that Paul respects.

Finally, Paul needs to do a little less, so everyone else can do a bit more. A more balanced offense and a commitment to defense will be the key to this season. His old tendencies are sure to re-emerge, but it is time for Paul to trust the others around him and stick to Rivers’ system.

The talent and structure Paul needs is now firmly in place. He just needs to take advantage of it.

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Chris Bosh photobombs Matthew McConaughey

Bosh gonna Bosh.

      
 

 

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Chris Bosh photobombs McConaughey at the Emmys

Sometimes, a picture says it all. Sometimes, a picture says more than words. This is one of those times. Enjoy Chris Bosh photobombing Matthew McConaughey. Chris Bosh photobombing Mathew McConaughey at the #Emmys on @eonlinepic.twitter.com/qDKhKEAEQk — Jorge Sedano (@SedanoESPN) August 25, 2014 And, enjoy it again: Sometimes, life is great. [Jorge Sedano] Follow Sean Wagner-McGough on Twitter @seanjwagner Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

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Chris Bosh photobombs on the Emmys’ red carpet

Sometimes, a picture says it all. Sometimes, a picture says more than words. This is one of those times. Enjoy Chris Bosh photobombing Matthew McConaughey. Chris Bosh photobombing Mathew McConaughey at the #Emmys on @eonlinepic.twitter.com/qDKhKEAEQk — Jorge Sedano (@SedanoESPN) August 25, 2014 And, enjoy it again: Sometimes, life is great. [Jorge Sedano] Follow Sean Wagner-McGough on Twitter @seanjwagner Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

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Chris Andersen says he stayed with Miami Heat because of loyalty

With LeBron James heading back to Ohio, the Miami Heat will have a different make-up for their team in the upcoming 2014-15 NBA season.
One of the players returning from last year’s squad is back-up center Chris “Birdman” Andersen and when recently asked by Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel about why he chose to return to Miami, he provided this response:
“It was definitely the loyalty from the fans and from the team,” said the Texas native who signed a two-year, $10.3 million contract with the Heat last month. “That had a big part of it. And it’s matter of me ending my career in a place that I’d be happy at and am familiar with.”

We wish Birdman well in this upcoming NBA season!
***
Andersen image courtesy of Getty Images

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Chris Thomas, Deverell Biggs commit to Texas Southern

Mike Davis has made the Texas Southern Houston campus a resort for second chances players.

      
 

 

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