One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time … ?” Next up: Brandon Bass.
When’s the last time an overshadowed big emerged in the wake of his frontcourt mate’s blockbuster trade?
Commanding the Celtics frontcourt, Kevin Garnett was talkative, intensive and abrasive. Upon his arrival to Boston in 2011, an inaudible, tranquil and cordial Brandon Bass — Garnett’s starting frontcourt mate the past two seasons following the Glen Davis trade — had zero chance to shine in the shadow of such a bright NBA light.
Trading great bigs isn’t a standard basketball business practice, but it happens, particularly in the twilight of their careers. In the past 15 years, Chris Webber, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Shaquille O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace, Alonzo Mourning, Pau Gasol, Jermaine O’Neal, Dwight Howard and Garnett have all been dealt.
In their wake, each left a frontcourt mate who surely hoped to take a(nother) step forward in their departed mentor’s absence. Webber left Juwan Howard in 1998 and Brad Miller in 2005, Ewing left Larry Johnson in 2000, Mutombo left Alan Henderson in 2001, Shaquille O’Neal left the immortal Stanislav Medvedenko in 2004, Wallace left Zach Randolph in 2004, Mourning left Nenad Krstic in 2005, Gasol left Darko Milicic in 2008, Jermaine O’Neal left Troy Murphy in 2008, Howard left Big Baby in 2012 and Garnett left Bass this summer.
Those 10 sidekicks averaged 12.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals per game during the season leading up to their star partner’s departure. Those numbers barely budged — dipping ever-so-slightly to 12.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.6 blocks and 0.5 steals — the ensuing season.
Not much changed, clearly. Most stepped back, if only because great players made their teammates better, and Davis took the biggest step forward, which either means nothing (considering Howard’s tumultuous final season in Orlando) or everything (since Bass mentored Big Baby throughout their Baton Rouge childhoods).