Chris Bosh Is Quietly One of the NBA’s Best Players This Season
The NBA Season is at its midpoint, and one of the often overlooked feel-good stories of the 2015-16 season involves a player whose circumstances were very different just one year ago.
Chris Bosh played 44 games in 2014-15 and, in the first post-LeBron James era season in Miami, was putting up some of his best numbers as a member of the Heat. He was on vacation during the 2015 All-Star Break and was complaining about feeling fatigued. He went for an examination and was found to have blood clots on his lungs, a condition that, without warning, could have caused a stroke or heart attack. Not only was his season over and his career in question but also his life was in jeopardy.
Despite the health problems and missing all of that time, Bosh has started this season exactly where he left off last year. Through 41 games and without much fanfare, he is putting up some of the best numbers in the league and has returned to star status.
Bosh owns a nERD score of 11.1, which indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team over a full season, good for ninth in the NBA. That is just behind Draymond Green who, at 11.4, has been lauded for his breakout campaign -- even if he's considered the third wheel on his own team.
Bosh is also averaging 18.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists (highest average since going to Miami), while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. It’s his highest nERD since joining Miami, his previous highest having been 10.5 during the 2011-12 season.
One of the most remarkable stats involves what this almost-32-year-old big man coming off of a potentially fatal condition is doing on the second night of back-to-back games. He has played in six games that fall on the second night of back-to-back games this season, and on those nights, Bosh is averaging 24.3 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists, while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor.
It has been an up-and-down season for the Miami Heat overall. Goran Dragic has dealt with injuries and been inconsistent as have other role players. But Bosh stands tall, both in stature and by way of the example he has set. His blue collar effort combined with his performance on the court will certainly have a long-term positive impact on the rest of his team.
What Has Changed?
When first arriving in Miami in 2010, Bosh spent much of his time standing in the corner to make room for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to get to the basket to score or create. He put up an occasional three, but his overall skill set was marginalized by the design of the offense. It seemed he was having a difficulty determining his role and utilizing the the strengths he had that made him a star in the league. He shot below 30 percent from three in his first three seasons in Miami.
However, all of that time spent improving his perimeter game to fill a role during the LeBron-Wade era is now paying off, making him even a more dangerous all-around offensive player than he was when he first arrived in Miami. He is shooting 37.9 percent from three, which is the best of his career with a minimum of 50 attempts in a season, and 8th in the NBA among power forwards with at least 70 three-point attempts.
Bosh has returned to his elite front court status for his ability to get to the foul line. He has 201 attempts in 41 games. While playing with LeBron, he had 279 attempts in 2011-12, 302 in 2012-13 and just 272 in 2013-14 for the season. He is on pace to go well above those marks with a Free Throw Attempt Rate of .346, which is the highest it’s been since his first season in a Heat uniform. While in Toronto, the only time he did not have at least 400 attempts from the line was in his rookie season. He had more than 460 free throw attempts in five of his seven years in Toronto.
Though his numbers on the offensive glass are down from a season ago, his seven defensive rebounds per game are the highest since his last season in Toronto.
Overall, Bosh could make the case that he is the most valuable player on the Heat this season and a front-runner for the NBA’s Comeback Player of the Year.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, he is 15th in Win Shares per 48 minutes.
With the focus in the NBA has been on the stat fillers in Golden State and Oklahoma City, the excellent play of San Antonio, and Cleveland running the Eastern Conference, little is being made of the contributions of Bosh, who is helping the Heat remain in the mix for a top-four seed in the East.