With all the new faces in Boston, there has been lots to discuss – for example, potential starting fives, Coach Stevens’ possible approach or tanking vs. not tanking. Players have also been discussed at length. When will Rondo come back and how will he look? Can Green make The Leap? What can Humphries bring? How will Sullinger rebound from his surgery? Can Vitor play basketball? Is Olynyk Jesus?
Yet there is one man missing from all the discussion this summer: Brandon Bass.
Nobody really asks if he’ll improve, nobody asks if he might start. He just kind of is there at that power forward position, absent from most peoples’ starting 5 projections. Is Brandon really that much of an afterthought?
It probably is so because of his game. Bass is a true role player with a skillset built to complement people around him. His mid-range shooting touch and ability to run the floor, for instance, fit very well with Rondo, but don’t give him much of an advantage in 1-on-1 basketball. In a sense, Bass’ play is a function of those around him. These types of players are very valuable on contending teams, and that’s why Bass was important to the Celtics the past two years (at least it seemed that the Celtics could contend at the start of last season… sigh). However, on a rebuilding team… How do we feel about him?
From the few discussions I’ve seen or participated in, I get the sense that the fanbase is divided in its attitude towards Bass. There’s a good amount of people that think a rebuilding team doesn’t really need his skills, some think he’s clumsy as hell and doesn’t deserve that contract, others love him. There’s no real middle ground.
I think that stems from his uneven play during his time here in Boston. When he first arrived in Beantown and played his first games, he won a lot of fans over very quickly by doing things Glen Davis – who was traded to Orlando in order to get Bass – didn’t often do. That is, grab offensive rebounds, take good, open midrange J’s within the offense and catch-and-dunk. As the season went on, however, his play bogged down a little and he wasn’t producing the same numbers he did early in the season. Then, in the playoffs, Brandon awoke again and was a big reason why the Celtics made it to the ECF that year, winning back the entire fanbase all over again.
He kept riding the see-saw the following season as well, alternating between stretches of underwhelming play and great basketball. Because of that, people have all those varying opinions on him. It is also the reason why it’s hard to draw a conclusion on what to do with him.
On one hand, you could, say, trade him at the trade deadline. As mentioned earlier, players like Bass have great value for contending teams. Someone who is serious about winning may throw a draft pick our way just to get their hands on a role player like Brandon.
On the other hand, Bass has shown some growth during his time in Boston, especially defensively. I remember being particularly bewildered when he managed to lock up LeBron James on successive possessions in a few games against Miami – a product of KG’s tutoring, no doubt. For a team that is sorely lacking in the defense category down low, Bass may be a necessary piece.. at least if the team is honest about not wanting to tank!
For Brandon, though, I think the #1 goal this season should be to achieve a level of consistency. If he sticks, he’ll have plenty of playing time this season in Boston. If he manages to utilize it well in a consistent manner, he’ll either be sought after by contenders and get a winning opportunity via trade or be able to get a decent contract after this one runs up after 2014-15.
I’d say that Bass is no less important to watch this season than Sullinger or Olynyk. Depending on how he plays, there are a lot of different scenarions that can happen going forward. We’ll see what role Stevens has envisioned for him to begin wtih, but I do think he has a legitimate shot at being a starter. We’ll see. With Brandon, you never really know what you’re going to get.
Let’s hope he finds a way to win over the fanbase again. This time, for good.