No position in the NBA is as loaded as the power forward spot. True centers are dead. Two guards are top heavy. Small forwards all want to be two guards. And point guards that can actually run teams are outnumbered by athletes playing the spot. But look on almost every decent NBA roster, and you’ll find one of their best players is a power forward. Look at Pau Gasol. He’s been one of the 10 best players in the NBA for three years, and yet this season he might not even make the All-Star Game because there is so much competition.
But for a position so deep and different in talent, Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge are oddly similar: Jump shooting, finesse big men who have been criticized throughout their careers for not being assertive enough. This season, we’ve seen both at their best. Aldridge is having what looks like his first All-Star year (finally), while Bosh has become comfortable as the third wheel in Miami.
But who do you think is better: Bosh or Aldridge? We argue. You decide.
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No star player has had it harder than Chris Bosh, from the personal attacks to his time as the first option in a forgotten NBA city to the move to Miami. The whole argument about Bosh not being a “No. 1″ franchise talent, it’s never made sense to me. In Toronto, he averaged at least 22 points a night for five straight years. He led that franchise to the playoffs twice; In his second career playoff series, he averaged 24 and nine. Can you win a title with Bosh as your best player? Probably not. But he’s closer than LaMarcus Aldridge.
I guess it depends on how you look at a No. 1 guy. If that top dog has to lead his team into contention for championships, then how many truly great players are there? In Toronto, Bosh played in five straight All-Star Games and led teams into the playoffs where the second-best players were T.J. Ford and Anthony Parker. Aldridge has never won a playoff series (and he’s played with much better talent than Bosh had in Toronto) and he’s never even made a single All-Star Game.
If you go by career numbers, Bosh averages more points (20 to 17.6), more rebounds (9.2 to 7.5), more dimes (2.1 to 1.7) and also shoots it at a higher percentage and blocks more shots. He’s done more individually and won more with less (At least in Toronto. He can’t complain now.).
Even this season, while Aldridge has the better numbers, Bosh is averaging 20.7 points on 53 percent shooting as a No. 3 option. And I can guarantee LMA would not put up those numbers if these two switched teams. Bosh gets criticized for being soft or unaggressive, but Aldridge is arguably even worse. Sometimes he spends entire games drifting around the 17-foot arc, shooting nothing but standstill jumpers.
You might not like Bosh, but you have to respect his attitude. Who else would confront someone like Skip Bayless, and sit there and take the dude calling him out, calling him a woman on ESPN? In the playoffs last season, every time Bosh had a subpar night, he redeemed himself in the next game. After playing horribly in Game 3 in the semis against Boston, Bosh went for 20 and 12 the following game, hitting some of the biggest shots in the fourth quarter that basically killed the C’s season. After taking all of eight shots in Game 2 against Chicago, Bosh erupted for 34 points the following game (on 13-for-18 shooting). Miami might’ve blown the Finals, but while Dwyane Wade was surprisingly off and LeBron completely silent, Bosh came through with big shots down the stretch in nearly every game.
Who was perhaps Miami’s most consistent player in last season’s playoffs? Bosh. Who made the most with the least? Bosh.
Everyone loves to make fun of Bosh and say he could never lead a team on his own. But honestly, what has Aldridge done? Even this year with one of the most talented teams in the NBA, LMA has Portland at 12-9, probably one of the largest disappointments in the whole league. His numbers (22.6 points, 8.8 rebounds a night) aren’t much better than Bosh’s, despite being No. 2 (behind Blake Griffin) among all power forwards in usage rate (25.3). The last time Bosh got the ball as often as Aldridge, he only averaged 24 and 11. Call me when LMA reaches those numbers.
There’s a difference between what you do, and what you can do. Aldridge has everything he needs to meet individual expectations: an alpha dog role, a team of talented co-stars and a system that is predicated on getting him the ball in scoring positions as often as possible. Bosh plays with the two best players in the world, and often has to resort to leftovers, the pup in the region’s most dominant wolf pack.
Perception becomes reality. Roles can define who you are. In his case, it’s quite obvious Bosh is the one being asked to hold back. But that doesn’t mean he can’t do more.