Jul 13, 2014 11:31 PM EDT
When LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland, everyone expected Chris Bosh to sign with the Houston Rockets and form a new Big Three. Instead, in the second most shocking move of the day, Bosh stayed with the Miami Heat, signing a five-year $118 million extension.
After four years in the shadow of LeBron and Dwyane Wade, Bosh is once again back in the spotlight - he will have to be the franchise player he once was with the Toronto Raptors and that the Heat are paying him to be.
While Bosh has had a secondary role with Miami over the last four seasons, he’s still one of the most potent scorers in the NBA. The Heat offense was based around spacing the floor for LeBron and Wade. They both got large stretches of time running the second unit, while Bosh rarely got a chance to play without at least one of them on the floor. He didn't get many post-ups or isolations - his points primarily came within the flow of the offense.
Bosh went from a usage rating of 28.7 in Toronto to 22.3 in Miami and from 16.5 field goal attempts a game to only 12. Despite being used like a role player, he kept making All-Star teams because of how remarkably efficient he was, averaging 16 points on 52% shooting last season. Those are the efficiency numbers you would expect from a first option forced to play a smaller role. Bosh took a step back for the good of the team, not any decline in skills.
When he was given a chance to play without Wade or LeBron, he showed he still had the ability to fill it up. The most notable instance came in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers, where he scored 37 on 15-26 shooting, including the game-winning three. If he regularly got the chance to put up 20+ FGA’s a night, he would have some huge scoring games. He can score at will - at 6'11, he's an elite shooter, ball-handler and athlete for a player his size.
As the primary option for Toronto, Bosh averaged 24 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 assists on 52% shooting. He was carrying that franchise - Andrea Bargnani was the second leading scorer and Hedo Turkoglu was their third. Without Bosh, the Raptors went from 40 wins to 22 and became one of the worst teams in the NBA. This year’s team, which made the playoffs for the first since time since he left, has only two players remaining from his teams.
And while he isn't quite as explosive as he was in his mid 20’s, he's a much improved player. The biggest difference is the three-point shot - he went from taking 0.3 a game in 2010 to 3.2 in 2014. Not only does the it open up the floor, the shot gives Bosh more space to attack his defender. Opposing big men can't leave him alone on the three-point line and very few can move their feet well enough to guard him when he's handling the ball 25+ feet from the basket.
It's hard to say exactly what his scoring averages will look like next season, but they should go up fairly dramatically. If he gets 15+ FGA's, he could easily be at 23-25 points on a very high percentage, which would put him back in the discussion with guys like Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love for best PF in the NBA. He's not the rebounder they are, but he's the most complete player of the bunch, with the ability to score, shoot, pass and defend.
Passing is one of the other elements of Bosh's game that he hasn't gotten the chance to utilize in the last four seasons. He had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio for most of his time in Toronto - he can find guys off the dribble as well as hit cutters out of the post. Featuring Bosh, letting him play with the ball in his hands a lot more and expanding his role in the offense will be one of the primary ways the Heat adjust to life without LeBron next season.
LeBron's departure means Wade will resume his role of face of the franchise, but there's little question whose the better player of the two stars left in Miami. Wade's been in steady decline due to his waning athleticism and lack of an outside shot, but Bosh’s game, based on length and shooting ability, will allow him to be a high-level player indefinitely. Even if LeBron had stayed, they would have needed to reorient the offense around Bosh as the 2nd option.
Losing LeBron creates a gaping hole on both sides of the ball and it’s hard to see a scenario where Miami competes for a title without him. They also have much less room for error, especially with Wade’s knees.
If Wade can only play 50+ games, Miami no longer has the firepower to compete without him. Going forward, they will need to do a better job of filling out their supporting cast than they did when they had LeBron. Nevertheless, all is not lost.
There's no way to replace the best player in the world, but he's not leaving behind a completely empty cupboard in South Beach. Josh McRoberts is a massive upgrade from the various players - Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem - who shared the frontcourt with Bosh last year. Bosh and McRoberts upfront will give the Heat some of the best floor spacing in the NBA. And with Luol Deng at SF, they have the nucleus of a 50+ win team.
Chris Bosh is a 9-time All-Star who has averaged 19 points a game on 50% shooting in his career. He's a primary option who also doubles as a high-level interior defender and floor spacer. Even when he wasn’t putting up big numbers, he was one of the most valuable players in the NBA - the only other big man in the who can dribble and shoot 3's like him is Dirk Nowitzki. Bosh can't fill LeBron's shoes, but as long as he's around, Miami will be relevant.
Jul 13, 2014 8:30 PM EDT
We conclude our coverage of the Orlando Summer League with the top stories from Thursday and Friday.
Philadelphia Wins Championship
The Philadelphia 76ers had no issues in the championship game on Friday, topping the Memphis Grizzlies 91-75.
Casper Ware continued to excel with 19 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. He should find an NBA roster after the way he played in Orlando. The 5-foot-10 point guard averaged 19 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game during the summer league while shooting 43 percent from the field.
Hollis Thomspon also impressed with a game-high 21 points. He’s a good shooter who was the third leading scorer for the 76ers in Orlando. Thompson also made contributions as a rebounder, averaging eight boards per contest to go with his 13 points per game.
Undrafted rookies Travis Bader, JaKarr Sampson, and Ronald Roberts Jr. were underrated contributors to Philadelphia’s success. Bader spaced the floor with his three-point shooting ability and capped his summer league with 16 points in the championship game. He was 6-of-13 from the field and 4-of-9 from behind the arc. Bader signed a contract to play in France, but can opt out if he makes an NBA roster. He’ll play in Las Vegas with the Golden State Warriors as a final tryout for scouts and GMs.
Sampson declared for the draft after his junior season and played with Philadelphia after going undrafted. He had 13 points and four rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting in the championship game to cap his impressive week. The 6-foot-9 wing averaged 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field. There’s certainly some upside with Sampson.
Roberts Jr. might have been the biggest surprise in Orlando. The Saint Joseph’s product was an extremely active power forward with a high motor. He had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the championship – a fitting way to end his summer league. Roberts Jr. averaged 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game with Philadelphia and was an athletic power forward that played bigger than his 6-foot-8 size.
D-Leaguers Lead Indiana
Indiana had a surprising 4-1 showing and third place finish in Orlando. Although the Pacers did not feature a 2013 or 2014 draft pick on their roster, D-League prospects stepped up to the competition.
Kevin Jones was a key part to the Indiana squad. The former West Virginia power forward was undrafted in 2012 but spent part of his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last year, Jones played in the D-League before signing to play in the Philippines.
On Thursday, Jones had 16 points and 15 rebounds. He followed that performance with 10 points and eight rebounds on Friday. Jones struggled earlier in the week, but found his mid-range jumper and was active in the rebounding department. He was the only player to average a double-double in Orlando, with 12.8 points and 10 rebounds per game. He’s a hard-nosed power forward who can also step out and knock down the mid-range shot.
Another impressive D-Leaguer from Indiana was James Nunnally. He scored a game-high 19 points on Thursday while shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range.
“I just wanted to come out aggressive,” Nunnally said on NBA TV. “The first two games I struggled – I didn’t shoot the way I wanted to – so I just wanted to stay aggressive and stay confident. I’m real confident in my shot and I know what I can do.”
The UC Santa Barbara product spent the past season playing primarily in the D-League, although he appeared in 13 NBA games with the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. He played with Indiana during the summer league with hopes of returning to an NBA roster.
Nunnally is a lengthy 6-foot-7 small forward who is primarily a defensive weapon. He’s looking to join the recent trend of “3-and-D” role players who can find minutes due to their defensive ability. If he has continued success with his jumper, Nunnally could find his way into the NBA. He did not play on Friday, as he left for Las Vegas to play with the Dallas Mavericks summer league squad.
Pac-12 Rookies Shine
Nick Johnson, a second round pick from Arizona, climbed into the top spot of the Rookie Tracker after his final two performances. The 6-foot-3 combo guard finished with 22 points, six assists, and six rebounds against Memphis on an efficient 9-of-14 shooting and showed his insane athleticism with a pair of tip-ins. Even more impressively, Johnson was 6-of-8 from inside of the paint.
He then recorded the only triple-double in this year’s event with 15 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds in Houston’s only win of the summer league. He was 6-of-11 from the field and provided another highlight with a 360 dunk in transition.
Johnson has turned his negative ‘tweener’ label as a guard without a position into a positive one. He has impressed at both guard spots as opposed to a player unable to player either position. Johnson may not be a pure point guard, but he can handle the ball and set up his teammates. While he might be smaller in stature for the shooting guard position, he’s shown the athleticism to defend bigger guards with success. Johnson should be a bench player in the NBA who can provide defensive energy and highlight plays because of his athleticism.
Adams had a poor showing in his third game with only two points, but he displayed why he was a first round pick during the final two days. He scored 19 points while shooting 7-of-12 from the floor with three steals and three rebounds against Houston then finished with 11 points, five assists, and three steals versus Philadelphia. Although he isn’t an elite athlete, Adams had some nice finishes at the basket including some and-one baskets.
“He’s really good in the open floor, he’s able to get into seams,” Memphis head coach David Joerger said of Adams on NBA TV. “He’s really crafty, he’s not a high flyer who’s going to jump over you and throw it down, but he draws a lot of contact and gets to the foul line. He does a nice job of staying in position – he led UCLA in steals last year and has a long wingspan – but he doesn’t just run all over the place. He stays where he’s supposed to be and gets his hand on basketballs.”
The high praise is certainly warranted. Adams is an elite scorer who is especially effective as a spot-up shooter. He’s an advanced help defender who jumps passing lanes to create transition opportunities.
Both prospects look NBA ready with the potential for rotational roles next season. Johnson may have a harder time finding the floor with a talented roster in Houston, but should get a chance to fight for playing time.
Smart-Payton Matchup Meets Expectations
With the top two college point guard prospects facing off in Orlando, there was some hype surrounding the matchup of Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton. Both showed why they were top-ten selections on Thursday.
Smart had a game-high 19 points to go with five assists and three rebounds. He still can improve his efficiency, shooting 5-of-14 from the field and 2-of-9 from deep, but led his team to a win with his clutch shots late in the game.
The 6-foot-4 point guard had the prettiest move of the day when he attacked the rim off a ball screen, put the ball between his legs, and spun towards the hoop where he finished with a left-handed layup. Smart is at his best in the pick-and-roll, but can become even more effective if he makes the defense respect his jumper.
While Payton isn’t a big-time scorer, he’s a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor. He had eight points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds against Boston while shooting 3-of-7 from the floor.
Payton doesn’t possess a consistent jumper, but can attack the rim and score at the cup. He does a good job finding his teammates but will need to limit his seven turnovers. His team lost, but Payton might have left a bigger impression because of his all-around contributions.
1. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons (Previous: 1)
Thursday’s Line: No Game
Friday’s Line: 12 points, 5 rebounds
Caldwell-Pope struggled in his last game, shooting 4-of-13 from the field and 0-of-3 from deep, but is our MVP of the event. He remained in the top spot all week and scored at a high level. Caldwell-Pope finished his summer league averaging 24 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He led the event in scoring.
2. Casper Ware, Philadelphia 76ers (Previous: 2)
Thursday’s Line: No Game
Friday’s Line: 19 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds
Ware led Philadelphia to the championship title and used the spotlight to show he’s an NBA caliber player. He averaged 19 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game.
3. Donald Sloan, Indiana Pacers (Previous: 4)
Thursday’s Line: DNP (Rest)
Friday’s Line: 20 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds
With Indiana holding a team option on Sloan’s contract, the experienced point guard played well in a pressure filled setting. Sloan averaged 18.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per contest.
4. Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics (Previous: 3)
Thursday’s Line: DNP (Rest)
Friday’s Line: 19 rebounds, 6 rebounds
Olynyk had an impressive summer league for the second consecutive season as he averaged 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
5. James Ennis, Miami Heat (Previous: 5)
Thursday’s Line: 17 points, 4 rebounds
Friday’s Line: DNP (Rest)
Ennis averaged 17 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in Orlando on an efficient 52 percent shooting. He should be ready to contribute in Miami’s rotation next season.
1. Nick Johnson, Houston Rockets (Previous: 2)
Thursday’s Line: 22 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds
Friday’s Line: 15 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds
Johnson was the best rookie in Orlando and there’s no doubt that he’ll be on Houston’s roster next season. He averaged 15.8 point per game, most among rookies, to go with 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists during the summer league.
2. Jarnell Stokes, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: 1)
Thursday’s Line: 12 points, 7 rebounds
Friday’s Line: 12 points, 11 rebounds
Stokes continued his gritty play down low, but dropped from the top spot because of the terrific performances of Johnson. Stokes had 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting against Houston and concluded his summer league with a double-double.
3. Jordan Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Previous: 3)
Thursday’s Line: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Friday’s Line: 11 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds
The first round pick averaged 14.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.2 steals per game for Memphis. Adams is a polished scorer who also contributes on the defensive end.
4. Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic (Previous: NR)
Thursday’s Line: 8 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds
Friday’s Line: 18 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds
Payton has been too good to keep off the list. He flirted with a triple-double against Boston and led the Orlando Summer League in assists per game. The defensive minded floor general averaged 9.2 points, 7.0 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per contest.
5. Mitch McGary, Oklahoma City Thunder (Previous: 4)
Thursday’s Line: No Game
Friday’s Line: 18 points, 5 rebounds
After missing last season with a back injury, McGary showed no signs of rust. He averaged 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while he showed the ability to handle the ball and hit mid-range jumpers.
Jul 12, 2014 1:25 PM EDT
With LeBron James going home, the Cleveland Cavaliers' odds for a title are up to 9/2. It's an ambitious goal for next season, but they do have a stunning amount of talent. They could start a No. 1 overall pick at four positions - Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, LeBron and Anthony Bennett. Kyrie is 22, Bennett is 21 and Wiggins is 19. If they allow those three to grow next to LeBron, all they have to do is find a C. There's no rush - this could be the start of something special.
LeBron is not headed for a steep decline. At 6'9 260, he's one of the biggest and most skilled players in the league and he turns 30 in December. He can be a starter on an elite team for another decade - Karl Malone started on a team that went to the NBA Finals at 40. As long as LeBron stays healthy, the window is open. Instead of doing everything to maximize winning a championship over the next 2-3 seasons, they could try to win titles for the next decade.
If you were trying to win right away, the move would be to trade for Kevin Love. They could start with an offer of Bennett and Dion Waiters, but they would probably need to include Wiggins. The problem is that it would be hard to give up on a guy like Wiggins so early in his career. In 7-8 years, Wiggins will be the same age as Love as is now. When LeBron starts to enter his late 30's, Wiggins could conceivably be the guy he hands the reigns of the franchise too.
That’s what the end game could be for LeBron - not to bring one title to Cleveland, but to bring a franchise that could compete for titles well into the future. When LeBron watched the San Antonio Spurs dismantle the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, he saw what to strive for. He grabbed the best players of his generation four years ago - this time around, he's trying to get the best players of the next generation. This is his chance to be on a franchise like the Spurs.
If he stayed in Miami, he would have constantly been in a race against time. He's already watched Wade decline in front of his eyes and Bosh is beginning the downswing of his career. The Heat didn't have a lot of young talent and not much cap space to add more. They would have been getting worse every year and LeBron couldn’t stem the tide alone. In Cleveland, the tide is reversed. As he gets older, all the young guys around him will be getting better.
There are questions about the other No. 1 overall picks, but they would all be so much better next to LeBron. The same can be said for Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson - LeBron could get all these guys careers on the right track. To me, the idea should be as much size, athleticism and shooting ability around LeBron as possible, which means Wiggins, at 6'8 200 with a 7'0 wingspan, and Bennett, at 6'8 240 with a 7'1 wingspan, as the two guys next to him.
After the draft, Cavs GM David Griffin said he saw Wiggins as a big SG, where he has a dramatic size and athletic advantage over everyone he would face. The problem was that unless he was playing with a wing who was even bigger and more athletic than him, he would always get the opposing team's longest and most athletic perimeter defender anyway. Next to LeBron, that problem is solved. The potential of LeBron and Wiggins on the wings is absurd.
Waiters has the chance to be a very good player in this league, but he's a smaller SG who takes the ball out of Wiggins hands and push him down a spot in the line-up. Thompson, meanwhile, doesn't fit the way the NBA is going - he's an undersized power forward who can't protect the rim or shoot 3's. Waiters and Thompson would both be best suited for reserve roles, which means Cleveland could have a team with two No. 4 picks coming off the bench.
Bennett is another guy whose career could be transformed next to LeBron. As a combo forward, he was trapped between positions a bit, but that’s no big deal when you are playing with one of the most versatile defenders of all-time. He has lost a lot of weight, which was one of the main things holding him back in his disastrous rookie season. If he can shoot like he did at UNLV, he would be very overqualified in the role of Shane Battier or Rashard Lewis.
The main questions about Kyrie are his defense and distribution, but that’s no longer an issue. He can play the Mario Chalmers role, spotting up off the ball and living off the attention LeBron draws. To give a scorer that gifted so many open shots is almost unfair. One thing that made LeBron so deadly in Miami was his ability to get guys like Mike Miller rhythm 3's - an elite shooter is not going to miss often when can set his feet and get a good look at the basket.
The biggest concern is at center, the one position where they don't have a No. 1 overall pick. Anderson Varejao is a good player, but he doesn't give them a lot of size or rim protection, which could end up being their Achilles heel in the playoffs. With so many young guys next to LeBron, they will need a guy who can clean up mistakes. Whether it's dealing some combination of Waiters and Thompson or it's cap space in the next few years, they need to find a two-way center.
There are an awful lot of ifs between the Cavs and being a perennial title contender, but that's why LeBron is there. As he said in his open letter, he can make their young guys better. There wasn't anything he could teach Wade and Bosh - they were his peers. Kyrie, Wiggins, Bennett, Waiters, Thompson - these are guys who were in middle school and high school when he entered the NBA. LeBron could pay it forward in Cleveland and reap a tremendous reward.
In essence, he could run the best finishing school in the NBA, sacrificing the front end of his second stint with the Cavs to extend out the back. Tim Duncan is winning titles at 38 because he is playing with guys in their early 30's and 20's - you stay young by surrounding yourself with younger players. And if the Cavs become the Spurs, it's because LeBron was Duncan and Gregg Popovich in one person. That's what’s on the table for him in Cleveland.
Jul 12, 2014
The best players in the sport have transitioned from supermen to businessmen to being a business, man, at the same time the league as a whole transitioned from family owned teams to major enterprises. Like it or not, this NBA should be around for a long, long time.
Jul 10, 2014
Marcus Smart, two Indiana guards performed well and Casper Ware continued to impress. Hereís the top stories from Wednesday.
Jul 10, 2014
While taking a quick glance at the market for Kevin Love around draft day could have led to confidence for the Warriors, any concept that letting the string play out would be to their advantage would be deeply misguided.
Jul 10, 2014
Itís hard to assume what else the Celtics could have done with the $10.3 million trade exception, but receiving what they did is a very nice haul. Adding a seven-footer to your rotation and a first-round pick is an obvious win, but Thorntonís expiring deal brings other options as well.
Jul 09, 2014
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's game-winner, impressive performances from Philadelphia's rookies, Jarnell Stokes and more.
Jul 08, 2014
On Willie Reed, Elfrid Payton, Jeremy Lamb and all of the action from Day 3 of the Orlando Summer League.
Jul 07, 2014
The second day of the Orlando Summer League saw the Grizzlies, Pistons, 76ers, Thunder, Heat and Nets take the floor. A pair of Long Beach State players impressed, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued his success and Shabazz Napier rebounded.
Jul 06, 2014
Nerlens Noel, Mason Plumlee, Shabazz Napier, Marcus Smart and Pierre Jackson had notable days as Summer League began.
Jul 02, 2014
Teams on the giving end of potential sign-and-trades rarely are unable to participate, but the Nets were unable to with Shaun Livingston's deal with the Warriors.
Jul 02, 2014
The Celtics seem confident Avery Bradley will be healthy and that heís not done developing.
Jul 01, 2014
No matter how strong the mutual interest in between the Pacers and Lance Stephenson, itís money that determines most offseason decisions.
Jun 30, 2014
If Jason Kidd plays it right, he can be the Scott Brooks to their version of the Thunder. Kiddís already proven heís a more flexible strategist than Brooks, so hitching his wagon to that type of young talent could give him nearly unparalleled job security.
Jun 27, 2014
A deep draft class means there was plenty of consternation regarding who would end up where and that many of the leagueís newest players were in attendance on the biggest night of their life. Hereís a rundown of what they had to say moments after realizing their dream.
Jun 27, 2014
Notes on Marcus Smart, James Young, Elfrid Payton, Mitch McGary, Julis Randle, Jordan Adams, Adreian Payne and Isaiah Austin.
Jun 27, 2014
T.J. Warren is the first player drafted that worked directly with David West through his AAU Garner Road Basketball Club program.
Jun 26, 2014
÷mer Aşık is a very good player and a true difference-maker on the defensive end, but the Pelicans have mistakenly sacrificed future assets for short-term contention again.
Jun 25, 2014
Doug McDermott believes the 2014 NBA Draft will eventually rank among the best in league history.
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