cavsraps

The Raptors’ franchise (and max contract) player
By: Tom Liston

Free agency 2010 talk drives me crazy. I believe Chris Bosh hasn’t made up his mind. How can he? He doesn’t know how this team will finish. Nor does he know what teams will have cap room and what their plans are. However, more frustrating are the comments I’ve read recently about him not being worth a maximum contract. Frankly, I was shocked, but it was worth “refreshing” my own thoughts on the topic so I did a bit more research and concluded that:

Chris Bosh is absolutely a max-contract/franchise player.

There are approximately 30 players in and around that “max” contract type number (http://hoopshype.com/salaries.htm). Some of these players have been quite overpaid in hindsight (e.g. Jermaine O’Neal) and others are due for large raises. And not every team will be able to afford to pay a maximum contact. So, let’s say that there are a solid 20 players that can be considered franchise/max players. In that context, let’s see where Mr. Bosh is currently for the 2009-10 season:

Sources: NBA.com and Basketball-reference.com / For win shares calculation / PER rankings

Mr. Bosh is top 10 in every major “overall” efficiency ranking. While PER, NBA Efficiency, Win Shares and Adjusted +/- all have drawbacks (there simply isn’t a “holy grail” of overall efficiency), the data is telling.

Besides the obvious positives from the scoring and overall rebounding numbers Bosh puts up, there are a two metrics that jump out to me: free throws attempted and offensive rebounds. These are two metrics which have an understated impact on winning games. Bosh being number 1 in free throw attempts is huge. It largely means he’s getting a key opposing big in foul trouble (and scoring points at the same time). This usually leads to easier attempts by his teammates as it often “opens” up the lane due to the lack of presence of the opponent’s key big. Offensive rebounds is another statistic that may not be fully appreciated. Not only did you “save” a possession, but you likely were able to put up a highly efficient shot. Ranking 5th (per game) in the league is impressive.

So you ask, who shows up on the top of Win Shares, PER, and Adjusted +/- rankings?

Well, maybe you didn’t, but it’s: LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash… oh and some guy named Christopher Wesson Bosh. And only four of them (yes, Mr. Bosh included) were on top of all three categories) It’s difficult to say if Mr. Bosh continues on this pace (see Blake Murphy’s great post for the data from last year), but there is little doubt in my mind he’s one of the premier players in the game today and certainly a maximum contract or “franchise” player.

“But he hasn’t taken his team to the promised land” one may argue. I’ll counter that view by saying you need another star (or “near-star”) and key role players to do this. Shaq had Kobe, Kobe had Shaq, Bird had McHale/Parrish/DJ, Magic had Kareem, Jordan had Pippen, Duncan had Ginobilli/Parker, etc. Bosh has yet to receive this quality support.

“But his defense isn’t up to par”. Two things: i) his Adjusted +/- partly accounts for this and his number is great ii) you tend to have play help D much more often when your 4 teammates are generally very poor defenders. This can exaggerate (negatively) your own performance.

Statistics sometimes “lie”. But watching many of the games this year, you see Bosh dig deep to pull games out. He is not a “create-my-own-shot-with-5-seconds” left type of player. No centre or power forward is. But he helps his team win games – throughout the game – and does it extremely well.

Chris Bosh is a special player. A franchise player. A maximum contract player. And a player that I want in a Raptors uniform for a long time.