Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chris Bosh MVP ? Try Winning With the Toronto Raptors First.

Chris Bosh has set his sights on becoming the NBA's Most Valuable Player." I came into this season saying I'm going to give it a shot" he told reporters after practice Thursday afternoon.
He should concentrate on winning with the Toronto Raptors first.

On Wednesday night, the Raptors were unimpressive in a 93-86 win over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. Bosh delivered a solid line, scoring 39-points on 15-for-20 shooting from the field and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and had a couple of blocked shots. Bosh was clearly the difference between the two teams.

He was at it again Friday night. Bosh’s 30-points, ten rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots carried the Toronto Raptors past the stuttering Atlanta Hawks 93-88.

Bosh's outstanding play for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics has carried over to the NBA season. In China, Bosh was arguably the teams most efficient player, coming off the bench to lead the powerhouse Americans in rebounding. He liked the taste of winning a Gold medal and playing with the best players every night.

Bosh has been noticeably more aggressive this season and it’s reflected in his numbers. His 27.7-points-per-game is a career high, so are his nine-and-a-half free throw attempts per game. He’s playing over 42 minutes a night and is shooting the ball at a sizzling 55-percent clip.

In short, Bosh is having a career year and from a statistical point of view, he is producing MVP caliber numbers.

While Bosh has raised the level of his own game to superstar status, he needs to understand that while his numbers look pretty, what makes players truly great is their ability to make those around them better.

It helps if your team mates are already good players but it goes further than that. The best leaders are the ones who are able to get their team mates to believe in themselves and to elevate their own game further than even they had imagined.

However, Bosh’s team, the Toronto Raptors continue to plod along with maddening inconsistency.

Part of the reason that Bosh has produced such big numbers is because he’s not getting the support from his team mates. It’s a double-edged sword though. He doesn’t trust them enough and they don’t deliver when they need to and too often, the Raptors lose as a result.

Three wins to the start the season was followed by seven losses from the next 10 games. The defeats largely came about due to the same problems that have plagued Toronto for the past two seasons; soft defense and poor shot selection down the stretch combined with an inability to close out games.

Often the Raptors start off games well and build big leads, but they are unable to maintain a certain level of play. This season, three times the Raptors have led by double figures only to lose those games.

Toronto's worst loss of the season came against the best, but hopefully Bosh took something out of it.

It was against the Boston Celtics on November 10. Then, the Raptors led by 16 points at one stage before losing by seven. It’s true that Paul Pierce had a huge fourth quarter and the Celtics are the defending NBA champions, but a game like that is where an MVP needs to step up and guide his team to victory.

Paul Pierce did.

Pierce, a possible MVP candidate himself did what Bosh should have done. He took control of his team and the game. Pierce didn’t wait for the ball to come to him, he went and got it and told his team mates to be ready…just in case he needed them.

It was a lesson in leadership and hopefully Bosh was paying full attention.
Furthermore, until the Raptors can get past the first round of the playoffs, Bosh won’t garner MVP consideration. In the last two seasons, the Raptors have fallen too early in the post season. Bosh put up good numbers both times but again, that counts for little as his team was eliminated easily each time.

This season, Toronto are not considered a serious threat to win the Eastern Conference by most analysts and their current style of play and 8-7 record will have done little to change those minds.

The only way to do that is if the Raptors can become consistent and that starts and ends with Chris Bosh.

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