Bosh wasn't always on board with it. Shane Battier, his stat-savvy teammate, pulled him aside one practice last season and showed him that taking one step back from Bosh's hot spot in the midrange could add more efficiency. Three is greater than two, and the payoff of a 50 percent 2-point shooter is equivalent to a 33 percent 3-point shooter. "He struggled with the spacing early on, because the footwork and the feel of the game is different," Battier says. "But he got the math. There are only a few players in the league that can understand the math behind it and trust the numbers. He's one of them."
Still, big men are known for a smashmouth style of play. It takes time to adapt to a new on-court identity, even for a longtime outsider like Bosh. "People confuse intellect for softness," Battier says. "It's just smart basketball. You have to let people know, 'I'm smart, but I have some sharp elbows as well.'"
At 30 years old, Bosh takes the time to look around the league. He sees younger versions of himself. The 20-and-10 guys. He brings up Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, who has never made it to the playoffs despite eye-popping numbers. He sympathizes with Love's situation. Because it was his situation in Toronto.
"I'm sure he's to the point, give me 18 points every time," Bosh says. "But it'll be a learning curve when he has to do it. It'll be very, very, very hard on him because you're used to scoring 25 a night. A seven-point drop? That's a lot. When you give up something like that, it's like, 'I can do more.'"
Bosh grew tired of short seasons in Toronto and leaving his reputation to management decisions that left him with feeble supporting casts. He decided to take matters in his own hands and joined up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
"Twenty and 10 is easy, I think," Bosh says. "You give me enough shots, I'll average 20. You give me a particular system where I stick close to the basket, I'll average 10 rebounds. But it's different here. We're competing for a championship, and that's what it's all about."
Bosh used to not care about defense. But the Heat staff had seen flashes of defensive brilliance from Bosh during his time with Team USA. He put his 7-foot-4 wingspan to good use and showed a keen ability to be in the right spot at the right time. Upon arrival in Miami, Bosh dedicated his time to learning the intricacies of Spoelstra's defense.
Nowadays, opposing coaches often talk about him as one of the best defenders in the NBA. They have to cope with his agility. This past season, Synergy Sports data ranked him as the single best pick-and-roll defender in the NBA, holding big-man opponents to just 0.53 points per play. In his final season in Toronto, few were worse. He ranked in the bottom 20 percent of the league in the same category.
In the Eastern Conference finals, Bosh completely flummoxed the Indiana Pacers in the pick-and-roll with his length and ability to beat the Pacers to spots. He averaged 23.3 points in the final three games and limited the 7-2 Roy Hibbert to just six points per game on 5-of-18 shooting. Bosh is more proud of the latter.
"That's one thing I pride myself a lot more now, playing defense," Bosh says, "I do what the team needs me to do. If we need a stop, I'll do it. That's a major, major part of my game now."