In this week’s episode of the “A Study in Green” 2012/13 Boston Celtics player recap series, we look at a certain quiet and hardworking Celtic, one whose performance was often the subject of intense debate throughout this season.
Behold: The Muscle, Brandon Bass. (Follow Bass on Twitter if you haven’t: @bestbetbass)
“My nickname for Brandon is ‘The Muscle,’ ” Courtney Lee said. “My man is strong on that block, he goes hard, he’s going to rebound, he’s going to finish strong so he’s ‘The Muscle.’ ” – Brandon Bass is The Muscle, CelticsBlog
Bass was remarkably productive in the previous 2011/12 season. Notching a career high 12.5 PPG (+1.3 from previous season) and 6.2 RPG (+0.6 from previous season), his pick-and-pop midrange game gave the Celtics a reliable and much-needed boost in the scoring department. The positive season showing got him a multi-year contract with the C’s at approximately 19 million dollars.
I for one, was looking forward to a repeat performance of the No Pass Bass. (Which didn’t happen. We’ll get to that later.)
The best aspects of the Bassman’s performance this season however, came in the playoffs.
Positive #1: Rebounding. He finished the 2012/13 season with a reduced rebounding output of 5.2 RPG (-1.0 from previous season), but picked it up to 6.7 RPG in the playoffs, his second-best showing since 2007/08 (6.8 RPG).
Did Bass get his boards simply by being in the right place at the right time? Rebounding requires a goodly dollop of effort and positioning. Luck, not so much. It’s hard to luck out on boards when you get pulled out of a good spot, simply because you had to run off, help a teammate in distress, and then come scrabbling back for a defensive rebound. (Let’s not even get started on offensive rebounds in the Celtics’ system, where transition defense is always emphasized over the O glass.)
To be fair, the improved defensive rebounding production (+1.3 RPG from 2011/12 to 2012/13 playoffs) is not a realistic sample, because:
- The Knicks often played small lineups, which ate into their rebounding capabilities
- We were a first-round exit (6 games played), which diminished the sample size somewhat versus the 2011/12 playoffs (20 games played)
Regardless, this was an encouraging stat. Why? Simply because it showed the effort Bass put into rebounding. You can’t read rebounding attempts off a boxscore, but I often noticed Bass going after caromes off missed shots. He might not have gotten there every time, but you sure as hell can’t blame him for trying.
Positive #2: Individual defense. Bass played outstanding D against Carmelo Anthony in the first round of the playoffs. His agile footwork keeping the All-Star forward to a largely inefficient game most nights. In all honesty, no one saw this part of his game being the biggest wild card in the playoffs, and it was a huge reason why the series went out to six games. Defense is a huge factor in the Celtics’ system, and Bass proved his worth in the right way.
Evidence? Bass was the primary defender on Melo, who made 61 of 160 shots in the entire series. That’s a paltry 38% in field goal accuracy, compared to an average of 44.9% (2012/13 season) and 41.9% (2011/12 playoffs). Make of that what you will.
Trying too hard, overthinking the game. Bass was noticeably trying to expand his game this season. From being a straight up player who either shot the midrange J or finished at the rim, he tried his hand at the low post, passed more, and incorporated more shot fakes in an attempt (I’m guessing here) to get more dribble-drive finishes.
I liked it better when he was simply knocking down shots in people’s faces, or dunking with authority in the paint.
Everything else? Not so much. You can’t blame the man for wanting to improve, but simplicity is the word here. We want the Bass who’s a merciless killer at the midrange, the one who seems to swish every damn jumper. Not the chappie who had the shot, but pump faked on a defender that didn’t bite, followed by slight indecision, and then finally kicked it back out.
COME ON. ATTACK!
Those three words summed up his season performance, and I’m glad he did so much better in the playoffs.
In case you were wondering? No, I’m not the only person who thinks Rondo’s presence had anything to do with Bass’s season slump, although the ball pounding was absolutely infuriating at times.
Despite a slump (and possibly botched game evolution) that lingered through the season, Bass recovered in time to make huge contributions in the playoffs. No blame, but we sure could have used his A game in the season. It remains to be seen how the team will move in the new season ahead, and how exactly Bass fits into Danny’s new game plan.
What did you think of Brandon’s performance this season, was his 3 year, 19 million contract justified? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop a comment and let us know.