Who Looks Like Half a Man Now?Whenever the Miami Heat struggled last season, critics mocked the team's "Big Three" by calling them "Two and a Half Men"--charging that Chris Bosh was not worthy of being considered a full man (in terms of basketball star power) like his teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. This season, the Heat are 8-1 sans Wade, 1-0 sans James--and 1-2 sans Bosh, who has missed the last three games after the passing of his grandmother. Last season, the Heat went 4-2 sans Wade, 1-2 sans James and 3-2 sans Bosh, so thus far in the "Big Three" era the Heat are 12-3 sans Wade, 2-2 sans James and 4-4 sans Bosh (interesting historical note: when Wade got hurt during the 2006-07 season, I correctly predicted that the Heat would not miss Wade nearly as much as many pundits were suggesting and the Heat went 16-7 while Wade recuperated but then lost the first game when he came back before being swept in the first round of the playoffs).
Clearly, these are small sample sizes that fail to take into account strength of opposition, home/road splits and other important factors but when you consider Bosh's pre-Miami body of work--five All-Star selections, one All-NBA selection, three 20-10 seasons (including 24.0 ppg and 10.8 rpg, both career-high figures, in his final season with Toronto)--it should be apparent that he is a very valuable player and a key component of Miami's team. Earlier this season I imagined what it would be like if ESPN's chief basketball blogger wrote about LeBron James and the Heat the way that he writes about Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers; the funny thing about that satire is not just the way that it mocks how the biased and/or simple minded take statistics out of context to support their most cherished beliefs but the fact that there is actually more truth to the idea that the Heat need to figure out how to better take advantage of Bosh's proven skills than there is truth to the assertion that Kobe Bryant does not fully utilize Pau Gasol--a one-time All-Star who became a perennial All-Star and won two titles as Bryant's sidekick--and Andrew Bynum, an injury prone role player who did not stay healthy or consistently play at a high level until this season. Before enraged Bynum fans--or Jim Buss, Bynum's greatest advocate in the Lakers' organization and perhaps the only person other than Shaquille O'Neal who would favorably compare Bynum to Dwight Howard--fire off scathing reactions to that last sentence, please remember that during the Lakers' back to back championship runs Bynum averaged 6.3 ppg and 3.7 rpg in the 2009 playoffs and then averaged 8.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg in the 2010 playoffs; for comparison purposes, Luc Longley averaged 8.3 ppg/4.6 rpg, 6.5 ppg/4.4 rpg and 7.9 ppg/5.0 rpg in the playoffs during the Chicago Bulls' 1996-98 three-peat. I wonder if ESPN's chief basketball blogger believes that Michael Jordan was a selfish gunner because he did not pass the ball more frequently to Longley?
posted by David Friedman @ 12:30 AM