PHOENIX -- Raptors rookie Charlie Villanueva believes there is something special developing between Chris Bosh and himself on the court.
"We're like Tim Duncan and David Robinson," Villanueva said, following the team's morning shootaround at the America West Arena. "But a younger version. I really feel that."
Villanueva will, no doubt, be criticized and derided for making such a bold comparison between himself and Bosh and the celebrated San Antonio Spurs duo, who won two NBA titles together. However, the New York native made the statement more out of optimism and excitement than as a prediction.
Although the Raptors have a 1-9 record, heading into last night's game against the struggling Phoenix Suns, Villanueva is having a solid rookie campaign and has been playing even better of late alongside Bosh.
And Bosh has been nothing short of magnificent for the Raptors, although that point generally has been lost this season with all of the gloom and doom surrounding the club.
"It's just a blessing playing on the same team as him," said Villanueva, who is tied for third among NBA rookies in scoring (13.2), second in rebounding (6.5) and second in blocks (0.90).
Prior to the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, head coach Sam Mitchell announced that Bosh would have to be ready this season for other teams planning their defence around him. Mitchell expected that his third-year power forward would be double- and triple-teamed at times this season, particularly with the departure of Vince Carter.
Mitchell added that Bosh's personal numbers would probably go down because of extra attention being paid to him, but he could still be a huge contributor by learning how to distribute the ball to his teammates.
Well, Mitchell was correct about the extra attention. There have been games in which Bosh has been smothered. On the other hand, not only has Bosh learned to deal with the double-teams, his numbers have improved from last season.
Bosh, 21, is averaging 20.2 points per game and 11.4 rebounds, fifth-best in the NBA, and ahead of such defensive luminaries as Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons and Jermaine O'Neal of the Indiana Pacers. His eight double-doubles in 10 games is second best in the league, just one behind Duncan.
Bosh said that he is fine kicking the ball out to Villanueva, Jalen Rose, Morris Peterson or any other shooter on the team. But he credits a new commitment on the offensive glass with his strong rebound and scoring numbers.
"When somebody (on my team) shoots it, my first step used to be backward," said Bosh, who is averaging 4.3 offensive boards per game, third in the NBA. "Now I just want to be in the lane when the ball goes up and try to make an athletic play to get the ball. If I get more trash buckets, my scoring will go up."