It is official. LeBron James is headed back home to Ohio and the Miami Heat’s fantasy run is over. But hey, it was fun while it lasted.
Sure, there was some heartbreak thrown in there having lost twice in the NBA Finals, but all in all, it was fun and successful. In the NBA, four consecutive trips to the Finals isn’t something that happens often (the 1984-87 Boston Celtics were the last team to do it before the Heat) and bagging two straight championship rings in the process has to be considered a success.
And then there’s the highlight reels which were nothing short of awesome! Most notably, LeBron’s many dunks and of course Ray Allen’s late game heroics – you really should have seen that one coming.
However, that’s all in the past. Now it’s all about the present and to be honest, it doesn’t look all that great.
Long story short: James was the pillar around which everything was based. Without him, Miami isn’t much of contender.
But there is a silver lining or two (or three). Dwyane Wade will likely return (despite the interest from Chicago); Erik Spoelstra, the man who has never missed the playoffs while head coach, is still running the show; plus they have quite a bit of cap space to play with.
In fact, they have already used some that cap room to re-sign Chris Bosh to a five-year deal worth $118 million in order to prevent the Houston Rockets from poaching him — although the move hasn’t gone down well with everybody.
— Jonathan Wagner (@JonathanJWagner) July 11, 2014
Chris bosh just got paid like he was an actual good player
— Pacers Nation (@Pacers__Nation) July 12, 2014
Chris Bosh is so overpaid — Emily Gruver (@EmilyGruver3) July 11, 2014
So with that said, did the Miami Heat pay too much of a premium for the All-Star? Well, the answer isn’t as clear cut as you might think.
Let’s start with his time prior to moving to South Beach.
Back while he was donning the Toronto Raptors colors, he was flirting with double-doubles on regular basis thanks to his 20-point and 9.1-rebound career averages in Toronto. During his final year with the Raptors, he had the best season of his NBA career as he averaged 24 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, while also hitting better than 52 percent of his field goal tries.
By now you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “That was a long time ago, so why bring it up?” Well, consider this:
Back then, Bosh was THE guy and everything went through him, therefore he had the ball as much as he needed to produce the big time numbers. However, after he joined James and Wade in Miami, he had to sacrifice those touches while those two (mainly James) got things, simply because they were clearly the better of the trio.
He became the third option on offense and his scoring numbers nosedived as a result, going from the mid-20s at the pinnacle of his career, to just 17.
Now that LeBron is gone and Wade struggles to stay healthy, the burden to carry the team is on his shoulders again. Now he is the one who will be relied upon to keep the scoreboard ticking and, as he has already demonstrated earlier in his career, he has the skills to do so.
Plus, he has expanded his repertoire.
While he was a Raptor, Bosh attempted 168 shots from beyond the 3-point line and hit 50 of them during the seven-year stay. Last season alone, he obliterated that mark by nailing 74-of-218 long-range attempts for a 34 percent conversion rate and was at 40 percent during the playoffs – which is great for any big man, let alone one playing at center.
Chris Bosh made 16 clutch time 3-pt FGs last season–3rd most in the NBA– accounting for 22% of his 3-pt makes. pic.twitter.com/wDRzrdy8Ex
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 11, 2014
It has become such has become a huge weapon in his arsenal, in addition to his deadly mid-range jumper and quickness, meaning he is able to have opposing bigs on string. If they back off, he has the ability to hit from long range.
If they step out to him, then he can just blow by for an easy finish.
Furthermore, his defense has improved immensely. Not only has he been able to hold his own against the physically imposing centers of the NBA, he has also been able to become the anchor in Coach Spoelstra’s high intensity D.
He is the last line of defense should opposing players get by their man, and more often than not, he does a great job sweeping up – or at very least forcing a difficult shot, rather than an easy lay-up.
Yet, for all the things he bring to the table due to his incredible versatility, the questions about his mentality always linger.
We know Bosh has all the necessary tools to be a nightmare for any defense to handle, yet he doesn’t always take full advantage of them. All too often he has disappeared when he is most needed; case in point this year’s NBA Finals when it seemed like James was the only one in a Heat uniform willing/able to fight for the title.
Meanwhile Bosh and Co. didn’t show up.
Granted, he has come up with some huge late-game plays over the years–whether it’s grabbing a rebound, blocking a shot or making game winning basket–although that doesn’t count for much when he is invisible for the majority of the game and the team gets blown out.
Ultimately, until the 2014-15 season starts and Bosh proves he is still capable of putting up big time numbers, just as he did in Toronto, then the general perception will be that Miami reached far too high retain his services.