Just because our host and hero Eyebeleaf is exploring the sub-continent doesn't mean the good times should come to an end here at SATC. Please allow reluctant Raptors fan and recent Bosh convert Drew from Ghostrunner on First to make a case for CB4.
Being a basketball fan in this city before 1995 was an unusual proposition. In high school during the inaugural season, some friends and I had our request for some TVs in our local pool hall turned to the Raps first-ever game flatly denied. Personally, I was a Celtics fan growing up (watch this game live at an impressionable age and you'll understand) and while I embraced the Raptors it was a certain cold distance and growing cynicism. I loved Vince but never got too involved. Bosh played well, the team lost. Then they won, but mostly they lost. Bosh made Olympic teams and the like, but I remained slightly skeptical. Only a few short weeks ago, I voted NO in the poll on the right of your screen.
What do I have against Chris Bosh? Nothing, really. If I'm being honest, I regurgitated a few basketball truisms and dismissed Bosh out of hand. "You can't win with a jump-shooting power forward...he's not the best player on a good team...blahblahblah." But then I thought I'd actually try thinking about it, try to put Bosh in context and decide then if what I lazily thought was true.
Firstly, is there a modern player with a game similar to CB4's? The closest I could come up with (other than David West. Zing!) is Tim Duncan. Big, true power forwards often miscast as centers. Good touch around the basket but can make a jump shot too. So I thought why not see how Bosh and Duncan stack up?
Two things, really quickly, before I make with the charts. If you aren't familiar with PER, I suggest you read this. It isn't perfect but it serves as a decent way to compare basketball players as it corrects for pace. Usage % is a fancy way of showing what percentage of a teams' players directly involve said player. So, let's compare Bosh & Duncan by usage % and PER by age. click to enlarge
Interesting bordering on shocking, no? If we discount the first two years of Bosh's career, he is on a very similar path to Tim Duncan, who many believe to be one of the top 15 players of all time! Now, let's not go crazy, Chris Bosh IS NOT Tim Duncan. He'll have to maintain his current high level of production for another 6 years to enter the Duncan conversation, but the similarity exists.
Chris Bosh dedicated himself to strength and conditioning over the summer and the results are good in this, his age 25 season. But how? What is Bosh doing differently? In a word, he's acting more like Tim Duncan.
Below you'll see two graphs. They track the average field goal attempts of Chris Bosh (red & black) and Tim Duncan (silver & black) over the last four years. If the legend's a little sketchy, I'll explain. The good people at Hoopdata.com track each field goal attempt and place is in one of five categories. The tiny sections at the top are threes, at the bottom dunks. First, Chris Bosh. click to enlarge once again
There biggest change in either chart is Bosh in 2010. He finally gets up almost 10 shots per game inside 10 feet. Looking at Duncan's, chart we see that's a baseline for The Big Fundamental. Inside 10 feet, Bosh is more likely to get fouled (career high in free throws attempts!) and take higher percentage shots (career high true shooting percentage!) There's no way this is a coincidence. Bosh shaved nearly two outside jumpers a night off his total, his new total of 3 more along Timmy D's lines.
So with his newfound approach, Bosh is playing at or near Hollinger's "Strong MVP candidate level" of 26-27 PER. The team is winning more games (just not against the Pacers) but they're hardly the juggernaut of Tim Duncan's early Spurs teams. It must come down to teammates, right? Bosh plays with stiffs while Duncan plays with world-beaters? Well, yes and no.
|Duncan Age||Average Teammate PER||Bosh Age||Average Teammate PER|
Using the top nine rotation guys (by minutes played) of each team, we see the teams surrounding Bosh and young Duncan are nearly identical. One key, key difference: Duncan had one teammate (David Robinson) with a PER over 20 during each of those four years. Bosh had two teammates with PERs over 20: T.Jose Calderford in the same season, a year in which Ford played only 50 games while Jason Kapono and Andrea Bargnani played 80 each and put up PERs under 11.
So CB4 and Time Duncan aren't that different, it's the team around them. If teams built around Duncan can multiple titles, why not a team built around Bosh? They should at least be able to make a deep run in the playoffs. In other words: the Raptors should re-up Bosh for the max. What they need to do, as all teams are well served in attempting, is building a complementary team around their stud. No need to line superstars shoulder to shoulder across the court, simply recognize what they have in Bosh (a deadly low-post scorer) and flesh out the roster with at least one other marginal All-star. Add some cohesive pieces to play off the two thoroughbreds and plan the parade!
Easier said than done, but the wily Spurs continually build great teams with late round picks and cagey free agent pick ups. Hopefully the mighty BC continues to build around Toronto's biggest sports star and brings good times back to the hoop fans in this city.
Thanks to Yahoo! for the image, Basketball Reference and Hoopdata for the, uh, hoop data, Daylife for the image, and our host and hero Eyebeleaf for the platform. Deep run into the PLAYOFFS!!1!!