Bosh's lofty goals anything but average

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

WATERLOO -- Chris Bosh has heard all the talk at Raptors training camp about improving team defence this year.

Which is great. Bosh is buying into the concept.

The Raptors gave up on average 104 points per game last season, second worst in the NBA.

So, yeah, improved team defence is a priority.

But Bosh won't leave it at that. He has some personal goals that he would like to meet this season.

One, the Dallas native would like to become a regular 20-10 guy, something that almost happened last season, despite the fact that the Raptors finished 27-55.

Bosh averaged team highs in points (22.5) and rebounds (9.2), falling just short of his projected goal.

With improved on-court support and another NBA campaign under his belt, the 20-10 bar shouldn't be a major problem.

But now, the laid-back Texan has another goal, and it's nothing to sneeze at. In fact, from anyone else, such a goal might be considered bravado. Perhaps even crazy talk.

"I want to average something like two blocks and a steal every game," Bosh said yesterday, at Waterloo's RIM Park, where the Raptors are holding training camp.

"Those are numbers I'm really focussed on."

To recap, Bosh wants -- make that, expects -- to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and a steal every game.

What kind of stratosphere would that put him in?

Only one NBAer managed such numbers last year, Elton Brand of the Las Angeles Clippers. Not Kevin Garnett, not Tim Duncan, not Shawn Marion.

Bosh, who made his first all-star team last year, has set another goal, which, again, barring an injury or some unforeseen meltdown, should be attainable.

The fourth-year Rap expects to be named to the NBA all-star team not just this season, but for every season from now until his career is over, which is good news for the Raps as their 22-year-old star is signed through the 2010-11 season.

"I expect it," he said. "But I don't expect to have a mediocre first-half and then be picked. I expect myself to compete hard every night and I expect to play like an all-star."

Setting such lofty goals is one thing if you're Mike James and you believe that you're going to progress from a journeyman into the best point guard in the NBA, in one season.

But Bosh is not that kind of guy. He wouldn't strive for something unless he believes it's within reach.

You know the Raptors will be thrilled to learn of the heavy expectations Bosh has placed on himself.

But Sam Mitchell has one more for his big forward.

The Raptors head coach fully expects Bosh to continue to be a positive force in the locker room. Not a big deal, because, again, Bosh is a decent human being.

But when all hell was breaking loose last year, when the Raptors started the season 0-9 and 1-15, if not for the fact that veteran players like Bosh and Morris Peterson maintained a positive outlook and neither pouted, freaked out or threw in the towel, the entire season might have gone into the toilet.

As it were, the Raptors did improve dramatically after starting 1-15, though a 1-9 finish in April ultimately buried them in fourth in the weak Atlantic Division.

With this year's schedule again a tough one (two west-coast road trips in the first two months), Mitchell will be leaning on Bosh and Peterson to keep the guys motivated and on an even keel.

"That matters, because the reason we were able to hang tough, after getting off to a 1-15 start, is we had good guys," Mitchell said. "If we had a bunch of jerks on the team, everybody would have been pointing a finger, going in a different direction. The strength of our team last year was we had good guys and when things got tough, they stuck together."

They're going to have to do it again.


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