Miami Heat Index: Magic Johnson
November, 17, 2010
By ESPN Stats & Info
Entering Wednesday’s game between the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns, one of the prevailing questions surrounding the Heat was the lack of production from Chris Bosh. While it was known before the season that Bosh was almost certain to be the Heat's third option, the drop in production has been more than most anticipated.
Entering Wednesday, Bosh's usage rate stood at 20.1, the 81st-highest mark in the NBA and his lowest since his rookie season. In fact, it was down from 28.7 in 2009-10, which ranked ninth in the NBA. In other words, Bosh has been much less involved in the offense and has had the ball in his hands fewer times per game.
Wednesday was a different story. The Heat came out with a clear agenda: getting Bosh involved early. He scored 14 points in the first quarter alone, taking the first five shots the Heat attempted and draining four of them. Bosh’s 35 points easily represented a season high, and marked a significant uptick from his 2010-11 production to that point.
While Bosh’s breakout game was certainly the story, the play of teammate LeBron James should not be overshadowed. Since getting off to a relatively sluggish start through his first three games with the Heat, James has taken on the type of facilitator role that many envisioned for him. Over his past eight games, James is averaging 22.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 10.1 APG compared to just 20.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG through those first three games. In fact, those numbers -- 22/6/10 -- have been maintained by just two players over the course of a full season: Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
But perhaps the most telling part of James’ effectiveness as a distributor can be seen from the play of the aforementioned Bosh. Bosh has been demonstrably better this season while James is on the court, including Wednesday night.
So while the start of the season has not been without issues for James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Bosh’s breakout game Wednesday seems directly tied to James’ effectiveness as a distributor. The fact that Bosh is playing his best when another one of the "Big 3" is on the court suggests that the Heat are learning to play with each other.