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Bosh to Houston

Will he or won’t he?

When it comes to Chris Bosh, this question has many possible answers.

In the spirit of the season, we will keep this positive and will not address whether CB4 will re-sign with Toronto or play out every Raptors fan’s nightmare and depart as a free agent when his contract is up.

Instead, we are going to examine whether Bosh will be joining LBJ and D-Wade as participants in the NBA All-Star Game or whether he’ll be in the stands, commiserating with Mike Jones, Paul Wall and the rest of the Swishahouse crew.

Selecting the team

Choosing the reserves for an All-Star roster has always reminded me of high school committees: more worthy candidates are often overlooked in favour of the popular choices.

Let’s break down the possible construction of the Eastern Conference roster. The starters will, more than likely, be Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and a pair of O’Neals: Jermaine and Shaquille.

For argument’s sake, we will assume that the Eastern Conference coaching staff will put together a balanced roster of five guards, five forwards and two centers.

Joining AI and Wade in the backcourt should be Washington’s Gilbert Arenas, Detroit’s Chauncey Billups and another shooting guard, possibly Milwaukee’s Michael Redd.

In the middle, either Cleveland’s Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Detroit’s Ben Wallace should join The Big Aristotle in Houston.

Which leaves the frontcourt. Boston’s Paul Pierce is a given, despite his disdain for the NBA’s new dress code. That leaves either one or two forward spots left (depending on how the coaches choose their roster).

The candidates

Chris Webber, Philadelphia

Webber has surprised critics who said that a) he had nothing left or b) he couldn’t play with Allen Iverson. He is averaging (through Dec. 28) 19.6 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. His shooting percentage, always an area of concern, is a below-average 42.7%.

Antawn Jamison, Washington

After years of being overlooked, Jamison was finally named to an All-Star team last season. Through December 28, his per-game numbers are 18.0 points and 10.6 rebounds, while shooting a career-low 40.2% from the floor.

Dwight Howard, Orlando

Orlando took heat from some corners for selecting the high-schooler Howard over the more established Emeka Okafor. Howard is proving those critics wrong this season. Through December 28, he is averaging 14.2 points and a monstrous 12.3 rebounds per game. He is second in the NBA in double-doubles with 19.

Chris Bosh, Toronto

Bosh has taken the leap this season, becoming the force that was predicted of him when he was drafted fourth overall in the 2003 NBA draft. He is averaging 22.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, while increasing his field goal and free throw percentages dramatically.

The comparison

Some have said that Bosh shouldn’t be an All-Star because his team has an awful record. However, of the four top forward reserve candidates (after Pierce), only one of them (Webber) plays on a team with a winning record (15-14). Remember, this is the Eastern Conference we are talking about.

Amongst the four candidates, Bosh has the clear advantage in points per game at 22.2. In fact, he is fourth in scoring among Eastern Conference forwards, behind LBJ, Pierce and Jermaine O’Neal. He also has the best shooting percentage among the candidates at 49%, which also places him fourth among Eastern Conference forwards.

Furthermore, Bosh’s Player Efficiency Rating, a statistic created by ESPN’s John Hollinger measuring a player’s per-minute productivity is second amongst Eastern Conference forwards, percentage points behind O’Neal. Bosh’s 22.88 rating is miles ahead of Howard (18.89), Webber (18.05) and Jamison (15.79). In fact, Jamison’s rating has him behind CV Smooth (16.70)

Consider all that Bosh has done this season and think about his supporting cast, in comparison to the other candidates. Are Webber, Jamison and Howard the primary options in their respective offenses? If you said yes, you obviously aren’t familiar with the “ballhog” tendencies of Iverson, Arenas and Stevie Franchise.

It could be argued that Bosh is the only Raptor who would start on an NBA contender. Despite this, Bosh’s game has improved markedly. In 29 games, he has 239 free throw attempts, compared to the 542 he had in 81 games last season. More importantly, his free throw percentage is up to 81.2% from 76% last season. His rebounds are up (9.4 vs. 8.9) and his assists are also up (2.6 vs. 1.9).

When Bun B said “We’ll see you February at the All-Star Game”, maybe he was referring to Bosh.

If he wasn’t, he should have been. CB4 deserves to play in the mid-season classic in his home state.