Brandon Bass flies under the radar, just the way he likes it
|01.05.12 at 5:26 pm ET|
WALTHAM — It’s a measure of Brandon Bass‘ impact on the Celtics in this young season that the narrative has already moved on beyond his lack of assists and turned to his actual production. (Good thing too, because Bass understands his role completely). Bass is averaging 14 points and 6.6 rebounds in 27 minutes a night and providing a real sixth man presence.
One more note on the passing thing. It’s become a joke within the Celtics locker room, but in a good-natured way. Doc Rivers had a great line after their game on Wednesday when he referenced the immortal Yinka Dare who needed — no lie — 78 games to notch his first career assist.
“We told him he was threatening Yinka,” Rivers said. “I don’t want him thinking pass too much. He’s a scorer. You don’t want to screw him up. You don’t want him passing too much. He passes to the basket.”
Bass has fit in easily with his new teammates. He’s funny and engaging, but he’s not a goof. He’s savvy and sharp without being cunning. He also understands that his life is immensely easier playing with four All-Stars who want him to be himself.
“I’m grateful to be a part of this group,” Bass said. “To play with Kevin Garnett, Paul [Pierce], Ray Allen, [Rajon] Rondo, ain’t nobody worrying about me, man. I’m flying under the radar and I want it to stay like that.”
It’s very easy to make yet another comparison between Bass and his childhood friend and former LSU teammate, Glen Davis. Bass has resisted the comparisons, because let’s face it, players want to be judged on their performance, not anyone else’s play. It came up again at practice on Thursday because Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has already taken issue with Davis. (If you took the under on 10 games, congratulations.)
“He’s not playing well, and I’m not sure his mind’s on the right things right now,” Van Gundy said as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. “What we need him to do is defend, which he has done pretty well, rebound better than he’s rebounding and move the ball and set screens.”
Davis didn’t talk with reporters after Wednesday’s game. Same old, same old with Davis, who forever seems to want to be something he’s not while ignoring the things that made him into a valued role player.
“Well, you gotta keep pushing him, and finding Baby’s buttons,” Rivers said. “And Stan will; Stan’s an excellent coach. It’s frustrating at times. But the one thing that Stan knows, and I know, [is] that Baby is not a bad kid. He’ll find it. It’s just, then you gotta find it again. And then again. And that’s just who Baby is. At the end of the day, that’s who Baby is.”
Bass supported his friend saying, “You know, I haven’t talked to him of late, but I mean, Glen knows the situation. He’s been in worse situations than that, so I feel like he’ll be able to overcome it sooner than later.”
The endless comparisons to Davis put Bass in a no-win situation and he’s smart enough to know that he’s better off worrying about his own situation. First and foremost is understanding the team’s defensive scheme. Bass is a willing defender, but the Celtics’ defense takes reps and communication to work and Thursday was their first practice since the season began.
Rivers praised his individual defense, but noted, “If you told Brandon to just guard his guy he’d be terrific. Where he’s still struggling is the rotations and he’ll get it.”
“It’s not a concern, he’s going to get it,” the coach continued. “Chris [Wilcox] is behind a little bit. A lot of their weakside helps are late and stuff like that. We’re just trying to get them to understand guard your guy and the ball at the same time, if you want to just simplify it. They’re into just guarding their guy, especially on the weakside.”
Bass is also learning how to play with Rondo, especially in transition where he offers the best finishing option that Rondo has had in years. “Man I got to have Stickum sometimes on my hands for his passes,” he said. “You never know how he’s going to pass it either. It’s going to be a bounce pass, a lob, you never know, but I’ll be ready whenever he’s ready to pass it.”