Bosh flicks on practice light

Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal pose during a media day at the ACC. (Michael Peake/SUN MEDIA)

Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal pose during a media day at the ACC. (Michael Peake/SUN MEDIA)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:26 PM ET

Sam Mitchell doesn't impress easily.

So, when he says Chris Bosh, a guy who he has no problem praising on an almost daily basis, has taken things to yet another level this year, it catches people's attention.

Bosh, according to Mitchell, has reached Kevin Garnett status in the Raptors head coach's book and anyone who has spent any time with Mitchell knows how highly he thinks of the former Timberwolves centre who took the Boston Celtics from worst to NBA champs last season.

"(Bosh's) practices now are unbelievable," Mitchell gushed. "In the past, Chris would come in and, not go through the motions, but do just enough. Now, every possession, every play is 100% all out."

So? Big deal. He's a good practice player. How does that put him in Garnett territory?

"I used to tell him all the time: The difference between Kevin Garnett and 98% of the rest of the league is that Kevin plays like he practises," Mitchell said. "Chris is getting that. I think that light came on. If you want to be better than just an all-star and take this team to another level, you have to be more like that and he has done that."

In Mitchell's book, Bosh has entered the NBA elite with his new practice habits.

"It establishes who and what he is," Mitchell said. "Chris Bosh is now, to me, a bonafide all-star. He was an all-star last season. But I think now he is trying to elevate himself to being one of the top players in the NBA."

Bosh said he has been hearing from Mitchell what it takes to get to the next level, but it wasn't until this past summer that it all started to sink in.

"I have grown mentally as a player over this past summer," Bosh said. "It might have been Team USA, it probably was. Being in that environment broadened my perspective a little bit and I started thinking more. And I wanted to get (Mitchell) off my back. That's always a good thing."

Bosh laughs off that last bit, but he knows better than anyone that Mitchell's constant encouraging is good for the Raptors and good for him.

"I have never practised this hard before," he said. "I had my good days, but the consistency wasn't there. You just don't know how to do it. It's like you go through the motions because you have to be here. I only figured I was getting better doing drills and one-on-one stuff, but now it's a different mental mind state. I think about everything, go hard for two hours and then go home."

Bosh says he can't say for sure how these new practice habits will translate once the real games begin. Mitchell, on the other hand, has no doubt.

"Chris has the talent to drag this team along," Mitchell said. "I think he's realizing just how good he really is and how much better he can become."


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