OK, enough with the music analogy. I know his name is pronounced like the fish and not like a guitar player, but he's more the soulful backbone of a band than something you'd catch in the harbor. Throughout next season, fans will clamor that Jared Sullinger should be in the starting lineup because we need to see if the sophomore can be part of the future of the franchise. They'll want Stevens and Ainge to showcase Kris Humphries as trade bait so his tenure as a Celtic is history. That's all well and good and all that makes sense, but let's not forget the guy that's been starting the bulk of the last two seasons at power forward: Brandon Bass. (Coincidentally, when the writers here at CelticsBlog were divvying up duties on who to write about for our Countdown to Camp: Player Days series, the sign up sheet filled up pretty quickly for guys like Rondo, Green, and Olynyk. I got to the list late and only Bass, Keith Bogans, and Vitor Faverani were left. This should say a lot.)
Under Doc, I always thought that Bass was a square peg in a round hole and to fans, a role player in a starter's role. People relentlessly hammered the guy for being inconsistent, but when you're playing next to Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green, Rajon Rondo, or Ray Allen, that's going to happen on some nights. Your numbers are going to be the by-product of their numbers. Nobody complained about Perk putting up a 6-and-6 stat line when they were winning, but because the team has struggled in stretches over the last two years, Bass was an easy target.
The thing is, when you watch Bass play, it's not like he makes a lot of mistakes. He hustles when he's undersized and muscles players out when he has an advantage, but ultimately, he's a complementary player. Last season, I don't think there was a player more effected by Rondo's absence than Bass. Bass isn't a shot creator and can't necessarily take guys off the dribble. He's Karl Malone lite. However, he's a great finisher. He's got that reliable mid-range and he always takes it strong to the rack with two hands:
He was a perfect pick-and-pop or roll man to Rondo's yang and it was that dynamic that prompted Ainge to sign BB to that 3-year, $20 million deal. But when Rondo went down with the ACL tear, it diminished Bass' effectiveness. With Rondo back (eventually), Bass' versatility will be back, too.
One of things that people forget about Bass is that even though his offensive numbers dipped in the playoffs last year and were inconsistent the year before, BB has been a stout defender. He handled LeBron James in that epic seven game series in 2012 and held his own against Carmelo Anthony last April. According to Synergy Sports, Bass averages 0.756 points per play against which ranks him in the 91st percentile of the entire NBA; that's second to only Avery Bradley at 0.697/95th on the team. With the NBA moving to smaller lineups and bigger small forwards like LeBron, Carmelo, and yes, Paul Pierce being used as 4's, Brandon Bass has proven to be a more than adequate defender.
My fear is that under a new coach, Bass might disappear. As easily as we've forgotten him over the last two years, he might just play out his contract and move on while the team looks to rebuild, but that would be a mistake. In interviews, Bass has such a quiet demeanor. Out of a 6'8, 250 pound frame, you'd expect something more commanding, more booming. But his disposition is calm and disarming. Without flash or fanfare, Bass just puts his head down and goes about his business like a bull in a china shop that inexplicably doesn't break a thing.
Or maybe that deep, rolling rumble you hear in the distance means a storm's a comin'. Maybe it's a rope-a-dope because we've seen that out of this gentle giant, too. When you least expect it, he throws down a thunder dunk and the crowd goes wild.
Brandon Bass Rises Up for the Facial (via NBA)