Now that much of the NBA free agency hype has calmed down, many coaches can focus on their respective teams and look to the upcoming season. Many high-profile transactions have taken place, allowing teams to grow, become contenders and for some, return as dominant contenders in their conference. With LeBron James returning to Cleveland, many would agree the Cavaliers are an early favorite to dominate the Eastern Conference. With the Cavaliers latest trading issues between top overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and all-star forward Kevin Love and Paul George’s injury affecting the Indiana Pacers upcoming season, this creates a wide-ranging gap that should allow other Eastern conference teams to make a stand.
More importantly, in what once looked like a sad situation for Miami, the Heat present a definitive case to remain a strong contender in the Eastern Conference. However, forward Chris Bosh must step up and be the leader. Over the last four years, James has been the leading star with Bosh and Wade as anchors. Now, it will be imperative for Bosh to step into that leading role and here’s why.
Dwayne Wade will have to re-elevate his game, similar to what it was four years ago before James joined the Heat. But the reality to that is, I am not sure he will fully be able to re-establish this. From the 2010-11 season when the former “ Big Three” united, Wade’s production has declined. In the 2010-11 season, Wade averaged nearly 26 points per game. Since then, he has averaged only 22 points in oppose to an average of 25 points through his first seven years with the Heat. Last season alone, he only averaged 19 points per game. With his health and knees playing a vital role in his production level, I don’t see Wade returning as the super explosive player that led the Heat to winning the NBA championship in a come-from-behind series against the Dallas Mavericks in 2006. Now, that’s not to say he want come back healthier then in previous seasons. However, the team will need to lean on Bosh more due to him being healthier than Wade at this point in time. Not to mention, the organization just paid him a massive contract, emphasizing the fact he must step up as a leader.
In an 84 game season, Bosh played in 79 games in comparison to Wade’s 54 games last season, largely due to Wade’s health issues. With that said, Bosh is the “healthier star” player between the two. Although only averaging 16 points a game last season and being inconsistent at times throughout games, Bosh still has the potential to dominate games like his Toronto Raptor days where he averaged 20 points per game through seven seasons. He was the driving force in making a name for the Raptors in the Eastern Conference. Thus, look for Bosh to step us as the key leader on the team. After all, in an article written by Tom Haberstroh for ESPN.com, Bosh is embracing the challenge of his new role.
All in all, Wade’s production and leadership ability will make the other players on the Miami Heat roster better. That is a given and we already know this. With the Heat retaining much of its interior and bringing in quality players like Josh McRoberts, veterans Luol Deng and Danny Granger, an up-and-coming James Ennis and a promising Shabazz Napier despite his summer league performance, Wade and Bosh have the opportunity and ability to build a team that can remotely become a strong threat in the Eastern Conference with everything that has taken place. However, it will be Bosh who must step up and that starts with taking more effective shots, meaning playing more with his back to the basket and becoming more effective in his mid-range game. Only then, will he become most effective for the Heat and leading and benefiting the team to its highest degree.