With Chris Bosh having just received a massive contract to be a cornerstone in Miami’s six years of dominance, you’d expect something better than 15 ppg and 6 rpg, with a ho-hum 48% shooting percentage. From an efficiency standpoint, his 49% eFG% is ehhh, and his 10.5 Rebounding Percentage (Reb%) is quite poor for a PF. Career-wise, he’s just below 50% eFG% and just below a 15 Reb%. His poor defense is well known at this point, and there have been some questions about tanking it for Toronto last year.
The only reason all of this is coming up is because the Heat are now 5-4, which wasn’t exactly part of the plan (unless you listen to LeBron James’ post-game interviews, in which case everything is going according to schedule). Of course it’s tough to figure out exactly what Bosh’s part in this poor start is, but we already knew he was a distant third on the team in terms of talent, but his 0.6 Wins Produced (the advanced impact stat that ends up in the news the most) are actually fourth on the team behind DWade (2.0), James (1.7), and James Jones (0.9). When looking at how good he is at accruing Wins Produced (he's third on the team in minutes, so this needs to be examined), his Wins Produced per 48 minutes (WP48) of 0.103 is average (league average is always 0.100), and surpassed on his own team by the aforementioned three, plus Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
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It doesn’t look like Bosh is doing much of anything to help his team win, and with so many other power forwards stepping up around the league, the question needs to be asked: Is Chris Bosh a top-10 PF? Let’s find out.
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Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Gasol has slowly crept his way into the top-3 discussion league-wide, currently putting up unbelievable combinations of points, rebounds, assists, and all with decent efficiencies. He’s not a great defender, but certainly better than Bosh, and he’s been the most dominant big man in the playoffs for the past three years. Edge: Gasol
Dirk Nowitizki, Dallas Mavericks
Nowitzki is a lot more versatile on offense (inside, outside, off the ball, etc.), is a better passer, more active defender, and is far and away the one you’d rather hitch your wagon to in a close battle with two minutes left. His overall rebounding numbers are slightly worse than Bosh’s, chiefly because his Offensive Rebounding Percent (career 3.9%) is abysmal because he’ll regularly shoot from outside; his Defensive Rebounding Percent is often better than Bosh’s. Edge: Nowitzki
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Much better rebounder, infinitely better defender, better shooter near the rim and from mid-range, amazing in pressure situations and the playoffs, and is the poster child for making a group of guys into a better team without drawing attention to himself. Nothing to discuss here, even as Duncan gets old. Edge: Duncan
Luis Scola, Houston Rockets
Scola is a more efficient scorer (career 52% eFG%) and is showing he can do it as a team’s #1 (23.3 ppg). His rebounding is superior to Bosh’s, so is his defensive intensity and passing. There’s never been a question how hard Scola is trying to win. And he doesn’t get hurt (literally, he’s never missed a game since he entered the league in 2007). Edge: Scola
Lamar Odom, Los Angles Lakers
He’s become an obviously better rebounder than Bosh, his defense is far superior, he’s much more clutch, and his effective shooting percentage has been better than Bosh’s for some time. He’s more versatile in every way—including as a passer and ball handler—and his advanced stats indicate he’s continually one of the most impactful players on one of the best teams. Edge: Odom
Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
He’s not really a #1 option anymore, but he knows his role as a good #2/3 better than Bosh ever knew his role as The Man in Toronto. He’s still a great defender and rebounder, not where he used to be, but way above average, and certainly above Bosh. Like Duncan, Garnett knows how to make his teammates be a real team and play for each other. Edge: Garnett
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
It’s hard to imagine Millsap as a true #1 option on his team, although he is currently averaging 24 ppg as Utah’s starting PF. His shooting percentages crush anything Bosh has ever produced, and he’s a noticeably and statistically superior rebounder (16.2 Reb%). It’s safe to say that Millsap’s big games have more of a correlation with his team winning than Bosh’s (he did just drop 46 points on Bosh in Miami on Tuesday to earn his team a road win). Edge: Millsap
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Griffin just started in this league and has already shown plenty of mistakes, but there’s no question he’s as good a rebounder as Bosh ever was (17.2 Reb%) and he’s far more active on defense. Scoring-wise, he’s had a streaky start, only hitting 46% of his shots; then again, Bosh has hit only 47% this year and he has vastly superior talent around him. By the end of this year, I’m thinking Griffin will look better than what you’d expect out of Bosh in a similar situation. They’re currently almost dead even in Wins Produced per 48 minutes: 0.103 vs 0.100 (both at 0.6 Wins Produced). Edge: Griffin slightly
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Smith can’t be a #1, but his eFG% has been a consistent 50-51% the last three seasons, plus his fastbreak abilities are scary good for a big man; make no mistake, Bosh is the better offensive option. Smith is not quite the rebounder of Bosh (career 13.4 Reb%), but the one area he FAR trumps Bosh in is defense. He’s averaged 2.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per for his career, and he was 2nd in the Defensive Player of the Year Award voting last season. The vast discrepancy in this area alone covers up his slight deficiencies in the others. Edge: Smith slightly
Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
These two are quite similar in that they both have put up some crazy per game numbers—not always efficiently—and seem to have never had the ability to actually lead a team to any real success whatsoever. Their effort/heart have been questioned, and in a not entirely disconnected way they are both poor defenders. I want to lean toward Randolph because he’s still relevant, but he’s such a head case I hesitate. Edge: Push
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
This is a tough comparison because Love’s not a particularly efficient scorer (pretty bad career 47% eFG%), especially inside where he’s not quite tall or athletic enough to do much damage. Also, this is one of the few guys you can name that are definitely worse defensively than Bosh. His rebounding numbers, though, are historically high (career 21.3 Reb%) and vastly superior to Bosh’s 14.8 Reb%. In the end, Bosh is more capable down in the paint with the big guys than Love. Edge: Bosh
Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
He’s far less of a ballhandler or distributor than Bosh, only has a higher shooting percentage over his career because of the system he played in (his 55% eFG% last year matched the Suns’ average – it’s now a lowly 47%), and he’s actually a slightly worse rebounder by the numbers than Bosh. Edge: Bosh
David West, New Orleans Hornets
West has been an average big man shooter for a while, like Bosh (although he’s more versatile in his shot selection than Bosh), but his rebounding is much worse than you’d think (career 13.3 Reb%). His defense is slightly better than Bosh’s, but overall he doesn’t quite bring what Bosh does. Edge: Bosh
Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers
Brand’s mini-resurgence this year makes him look attractive, but at this point he just doesn’t bring “it” often enough, or even have enough of “it” to realistically compare with Bosh. Edge: Bosh
Others Worth Noting
Chicago’s Carlos Boozer is hurt right now, but his much higher rebounding and shooting numbers, plus the fact he can overwhelm weaker opponents, would make him the better of the two. New Jersey’s Troy Murphy just came back from an injury, but he is a superior rebounder and more capable/versatile offensive player (although he’s never had to do it as a #1), so there’s at least an argument for his inclusion over Bosh. Chicago’s Taj Gibson is the vastly superior defender, plays without the ball beautifully and unselfishly (and he’s shooting 51% for his career), and is a capable rebounder, but he hasn’t been used enough at this point to rank him too high without more evidence. Rookie Derrick Favors may be better than Bosh right now, but again I would need to see more of his offense to place him too high (if I had to take Favors or Bosh right now for the next three years, no question it’s Favors). Bosh’s replacement in Toronto, Reggie Evans, already has far more Produced Wins (1.4) and WP48 (0.313) – same with NJ back-up Kris Humphries (1.0, 0.345). Same with Brandon Bass, Amir Johnson, and Anthony Tolliver. Obviously I wouldn’t take any of these five over Bosh, but it should be noted that these guys are calculating out as more statistically impactful at this point in the season with less talent around them.
Obviously I placed the players in a basic order of better-worse for easy comparison. Doing the math, we have seven players who are clearly superior at the position over Bosh, two others who probably are, and a few players in the mix down in “Others Worth Noting” who are injured or not tested enough at this point in their careers to make a clear comparison. I’m leaning toward saying Bosh is, at absolute best, a top-10 PF but more likely only a top-12, top-14 performer at the position. Considering he’s been part of only one winning team in his career and made All-NBA Second Team a single time (his only post-season acknowledgement ever – no, never a Third Team inclusion), this seems about right. Good luck James and Wade; you’re now the Big Two.