Katz: Casing the draft
A look back, ahead
Fraschilla: Who's foolin' who?
Tuesday, June 24
Updated: June 25, 10:50 AM ET
With Bosh, draft's review will be four stars
By Marc Spears
Special to ESPN.com
DENVER -- There is a misconception that the NBA draft includes primarily a Big Three in LeBron James, Darko Milicic and Carmelo Anthony. In actuality, Thursday's draft should be billed as the Big Four with James, Milicic, Anthony and Chris Bosh.
"Don't dismiss Chris," said Denver Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik, after watching the Georgia Tech forward work out last Saturday. "His upside is as big as the so-called Big Three."
Bosh doesn't have King James' hype, Darko's mystique or Carmelo's smile. The mild-mannered 19-year-old has received very little hype at all despite an impressive resume.
Named the Atlantic Coast Conference's Rookie of the Year and to the All-ACC second team and USBW all-freshman team, Bosh averaged team-highs of 15.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game as just a freshman. He also led the storied ACC in field-goal percentage (56.0) and blocked shots while shooting an impressive 47.8 percent from the 3-point line.
Although Milicic played in the Global Games in 2002, a tournament in Dallas that includes the world's top teenage basketball talent, it was Bosh who was named the MVP. So why hasn't Bosh been captured by the media spotlight? There are several reasons.
James is a phenomenon who's become a household name. Milicic has been featured on ESPN and has received strong national media attention. Anthony made national headlines by leading Syracuse to the national championship. As for Bosh, he received little notice as his Yellow Jackets played in the National Invitation Tournament.
During three NIT games, Bosh averaged 18 points and 9.3 rebounds against Ohio State, Iowa and Texas Tech -- impressive for a freshman. But if you're not playing in the NCAA Tournament, no one notices unless you're playing for a big-time program in the NIT. And even that's debatable.
"It doesn't bother me one bit," said Bosh of the lack of notoriety. "I just love playing the game. If I love playing the game, I don't need attention just to keep working."
"Everything depends on how hard you work," he added. "If I continue to work as hard as I can and continue to push myself, the sky's the limit. That's my opinion."
There is talk that Bosh is too skinny. He weighed just a measly 210 pounds last season. The Dallas native has gained 15 pounds since the end of the college season and hopes to get to 235 pounds by the start of the NBA season in October. Bosh has amazing skills inside the paint and from the perimeter, but how quickly he builds strength will determine how fast he makes a major impact in the NBA. He stands 6-foot-11½ in shoes and has a 7-3½ wingspan, but without muscle, those physical attributes won't be used to the fullest by Bosh.
"Weight has always been an issue for me," Bosh said. "I've been working on it my whole life ... That will come along."
There is also one other thing plaguing Bosh: Who is Chris Bosh?
A lot of people have no idea what this kid is about. Think Tim Duncan persona. Quiet but deadly. Not one to bring attention to himself, Bosh isn't exactly a great basketball name, either. Maybe he should use his middle name Wesson instead. Basically, Bosh hasn't caught the imagination of America quite like LeBron, Darko or Melo has. But in time, he should make a name for himself with his game, not with his mouth or look.
"There is nothing wrong with laying low and being the quiet guy," said Bosh, who lists the unselfish Duncan and Kevin Garnett as his favorite players. "The spotlight is not something I feed for or need. I just lay low, be quiet and go to workout after workout.
"I'm just a calm, cool and collected guy on and off the court. That's not my style to be loud and boisterous. Since my coaches knew that I wasn't a vocal leader, they just told me to lead by example."
|Chris Bosh has the game of Jermaine O'Neal and will need time to mature like O'Neal.|
James signed a $90 million shoe deal with Nike, Milicic signed with And1 and Anthony signed with Nike to help promote Michael Jordan's Jumpman line. Bosh? Not even Pro Keds has called.
James, Milicic and Anthony also have a lot of other endorsement contracts besides shoes. Bosh? Well, he does have one deal with EA Sports for a college video game. He joins Anthony and Kansas' Kirk Hinrich as endorsers. So Bosh has got to be on the box of the video game, right?
"Of course not, (Anthony) had that sewn up a long time ago," Bosh said.
Bosh reminds me of a high school kid from South Carolina who was picked 17th overall in the 1996 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers -- a skinny 17-year-old named Jermaine O'Neal.
O'Neal struggled during his first four seasons playing on a veteran team and waiting for his body to mature. But now he is one of the NBA's most dominating players and one of this summer's top free agents. O'Neal can shoot from the outside, play inside, block shots and dunk on you. Bosh does similar things. And while it may not take as long for Bosh to come around as O'Neal since he did play a year in college and will likely land on a team where he can play immediately, it could take two seasons for Bosh to begin reaching his All-Star potential.
"He has a chance to be as good as (James, Milicic and Anthony)," Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "He's obviously physically younger. It may take a year or so. But he's a very, very talented young man. He was very successful in school and he's going to be very successful in the pros."
"Most people in the league presume James, Milicic, Anthony and Bosh will be drafted in that order and the draft begins at 5," one Western Conference executive said.
However, keep an eye on Chris Bosh. In just a few years, NBA fans will look back at the 2003 draft and describe it as the year of The Big Four, not The Big Three.
||James signed a $90 million shoe deal with Nike, Milicic signed with And1 and Anthony signed with Nike to help promote Michael Jordan's Jumpman line. Bosh? Not even Pro Keds has called.
Marc J. Spears, who covers the NBA and Denver Nuggets for the Denver Post, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.