The Last Word

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

HOUSTON -- Glen Grunwald's not the easiest guy in the world to get a hold of anymore, unless you are looking to start up a widget factory in Toronto.

Since being cut loose by the Raptors two years ago, the team's former general manager and senior vice-president has kept a fairly low profile despite the fact he is one of the big shots at the Toronto Board of Trade.

Sure, he has been spotted on TV making speeches on the alarming state of the city's finances or his office's latest initiative to attract new business to T.O. But one thing he hardly speaks of anymore is his time with the Raptors.

Which is a shame, because when you look what has gone down in Raptorland this season, Grunwald was, and is, a big part of it.

We're talking about Chris Bosh's ascension as an NBA all-star.

Grunwald selected the gangly freshman out of Georgia Tech with the fourth-pick overall in the 2003 NBA draft, a draft which has turned out to be one of the strongest drafts in recent NBA history.

LeBron James went to Cleveland, no surprise there, followed by Darko Milicic to Detroit (ouch) and Carmelo Anthony to Denver. Toronto then picked Bosh and the Miami Heat selected a fine guard out of Marquette, Dwyane Wade.

Wade became an All-Star in his second year.

Bosh did not.

Wade quickly established himself as a superstar, the real deal. The consensus was Toronto would have been better off taking him over Bosh.

Not anymore.

Times have changed. It's no longer a slam dunk that Wade should have been selected over Bosh.

There is a growing feeling around the NBA that Bosh may have indeed been the right pick by the Raptors.

"I hate comparing them, because they play different positions and they're both terrific players," Wayne Embry, the Raptors interim GM, said yesterday.

"But the answer to, who do you pick? You can't go wrong with either of them."

Statistically, Wade may still be the better man. And the Heat point guard certainly is flashier.

But there is an argument to be made that Bosh has more upside. For one thing, Bosh is a good two years younger than Wade. He turns 22 next month, while Wade is 24.

Wade may also have hit the wall in terms of how much he will improve, while Bosh continues to take major strides in his game.

Some numbers for your consideration: Wade shot 48% from the floor last season and is shooting 49% this season. Bosh shot 47% last season and is shooting a very impressive 51% this season.

The Toronto forward also has taken huge strides from the free throw line -- an area of his game that needed improvement. Bosh is shooting 82% from the line this year, compared to 76% last season. Wade's shooting percentage is up from last year, but only three percentages points.

And then there's this: Would Wade have been happy in a rebuilding situation in Toronto? Bosh seems to be leaning towards signing a long-term contract extension with the Raptors. Most NBA players want out of Toronto as soon as they get the chance.

Wade was an all-star last season, but remember who he played with. Bosh played with Vince Carter, but Vinsanity was going through the motions in Toronto last season.

"It's pretty certain that Shaq expedited Wade's development," Raptors broadcaster Paul Jones said.

"How much did Shaq help Wade become an all-star? Nobody helped Chris become one."

So, did Grunwald make the right pick?


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