Bosh impressed the Toronto brass during a one-on-one predraft workout with Kansas senior forward Nick Collison, but Grunwald still made inquiries about trading his No. 4 pick for a veteran, and after the draft Carter suggested that the G.M. should have pulled the trigger on such a deal. "I don't blame Vince," says Bosh. "He didn't know anything about me. All I know is that the first time we had a chance to talk, right before training camp, Vince told me, 'We're glad to have you. What you need to do is play hard and show you belong.' "
The preparation had already begun; Bosh spent the summer lifting weights, gorging on protein shakes and eating a protein-rich diet monitored by a nutritionist. He even tried a few legal supplements (MET-Rx, creatine and glutamine) to pad his then 212-pound frame. "I gained about 18 pounds, and a lot of it was muscle," he said last week between bites of a carb-loaded, postpractice repast of chicken fingers, French fries and pasta. "I guess I could stand to put on some more, but I'm not focusing on it. I don't feel like I'm getting pushed around."
Bosh also went to work building a support system, which unlike those of many young draft picks didn't include a bunch of guys charged with keeping the Esplanade gassed up. Cuz is enough for now. "I couldn't imagine coming home to an empty house," Bosh says. "With all the adjustments a rookie has to go through, I knew I needed someone."
Bosh's game is hard to characterize. His greatest strength, in fact, is that he has no glaring weakness, not even his slender frame. Yes, his upper body is slight for a center (or even a centre), but his legs are strong, allowing him to establish position at both ends of the floor. "He's no noodle" is the way O'Neill puts it. His right hand needs work—being a lefty gives him a slight advantage his first time through the league—but he's already improved in that area. In last Friday night's 114-111 loss to the Boston Celtics, Bosh missed a sweeping righthanded hook but later switched the ball from his left to his right hand in midair to make a layup.
Though he's comfortable with his back to the basket, at this point Bosh is more likely to turn, square up and work his man a little, perhaps take a fallaway jumper or use his soft touch from the baseline. His footwork is already superb, which is why Rose, Carter and shooting guard Alvin William use him frequently on high pick-and-rolls; it's only a matter of time before he picks, fades and starts scoring from the outside. That agility helps him on defense too. Outside-shooting frontcourtmen (such as Dirk Nowitzki, Antoine Walker and Karl Malone) can stay out on the perimeter all night, but Bosh will be right there with them. O'Neill, in fact, can see Bosh guarding a small forward or a two guard in the near future.
Bosh's on-court demeanor is serious but not solemn; in the Boston game he accompanied a rim-rattling dunk with a silent scream and a subtle shimmy shake, an example of Bosh spice. He seeks an on-court temperament somewhere between the demonstrative Kevin Garnett and the phlegmatic Tim Duncan, his favorite players. He studies their moves and makes them his own, modifying a Duncan step-through or a Garnett spin for his game. "It's important to have models because you can't come up with everything yourself," says Bosh. "I look at those two and kind of put them together."
He has a long way to go to reach the Duncan-Garnett level. But his steady play and stout competitiveness have made a believer out of at least one former doubter. "Chris asks questions, accepts criticism and takes advice," says Carter. "All that, and he can really play. There aren't many rookies like that, and I'm glad we've got one of them."