Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Brandon Bass isn’t issuing any play-me-or-trade-me demand to the Orlando Magic. He is too nice, too soft spoken to make a pronouncement like that. It’s just not his way.
This is just a gentle reminder.
“I think they’ll do the right thing, whatever is the right thing — either play me next season or send me somewhere else. That’s what I’m hoping,” Bass told FanHouse earlier this week following the Summer Groove charity game in Miami. “I won’t go through what I did last season.” [...]
“I expect things to be better for me next season,” he said. “I felt like I deserved more of an opportunity than I received last season. Look at the series (against Boston when the Magic lost). I was just what was missing. I respect Coach Stan [Van Gundy] and the way he likes to play, but sometimes you have to try something different.”
It’s a shame that it’s come down to this.
Brandon Bass is a good player and usually deserves kudos for his professionalism, but he’s in no position to give an ultimatum to head coach Stan Van Gundy and demand more playing time. And will all due respect to Bass, but he was not what the Orlando Magic were missing in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The need was for another dominant scorer, preferably on the perimeter, to lessen the pressure on Howard in the post. Some people assert that Bass was one of the main reasons that the Magic beat the Celtics in Games 4 and 5. Somehow they try to use those games as examples that Bass was a difference maker, and thus got a raw deal from Van Gundy throughout the season.
Orlando won the two games against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals almost entirely due to the efforts of Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, with some contributions made by J.J. Redick and Rashard Lewis. It’s insulting to diminish the Herculean performances of Nelson and Howard just to shed light that Bass was able to amass 11 points and three rebounds in roughly 23 minutes of playing time, with most of those points coming in garbage time in Game 5 when the Magic blew the game wide open in the fourth quarter. The revisionist history of Bass’ accomplishments against the Celtics is confusing. It really is.
There’s no question that Bass is a solid role player.
The problem for Bass, however, is that he’s playing in a system offensively that runs counter to his strengths. Bass is an efficient mid-range shooter, yet Orlando tries to stay away from the long two because it’s the most inefficient shot in basketball. The occasional 16-footer has its uses, no doubt, but it’s not something to build an offense around. That’s one of the many reasons why Bass didn’t get a lot of burn. Not only could Lewis and Ryan Anderson spread the floor as “true” stretch fours and provide proper spacing to Howard, but they’re better players. Statistically, Lewis had a down year but he’s put up better numbers in the past.
|adj. +/-||net +/-||stat. +/-||PER||WARP||Win Shares/48|
Another issue for Bass is that he has poor court awareness, especially on defense, where he routinely blows assignments and rotations. Some people try to excuse Bass and say that because he hasn’t gotten much playing time, he hasn’t been able to grasp Van Gundy’s concepts defensively. But Anderson played a little more than 250 minutes in the season compared to Bass, and somehow he was able to do just fine on defense and he has less experience in the NBA. For Bass, his problems defensively aren’t groundbreaking. Bass dealt with the same issues with the Dallas Mavericks for two years. The excuses only run so far.
Many look at Bass’ imposing physique and assume that he’s a great rebounder and defender, but he’s not. And the irony is that Anderson, someone who is inaccurately perceived as being soft, is better than Bass in those particular skill-sets. There’s a big misconception of Bass’ skills and it’s getting out of hand.
|net def. +/-||dMULT||opp. PER||TRB%||STL%||BLK%|
|Anderson||+0.99||0.949||17.1 (vs. PF’s)||12.8||1.4||1.1|
|Bass||+3.29||0.916||13.0 (vs. PF’s)||11.3||1.0||3.1|
This has been stated before, but Bass is on the wrong team. Bass relies on instinct and energy, more than anything else, but he’s missing one component and that’s a high basketball IQ. Playing with intensity is great, but it does Bass no good because he’s almost always caught out of position on the floor. This isn’t meant to be a Bass bash-fest, but facts are facts. If Bass can improve his awareness level — which seems like a long-shot — and show Van Gundy that he is able to help the Magic in a positive manner, then he might have a future on the roster.
If Bass wants to play ahead of Anderson and be the back-up power forward, he’s going to have to earn that spot. If not, perhaps general manager Otis Smith is better off trading for a player that is a better match with Orlando. Everyone for the Magic, except for Bass, is a good fit.
It’s up to Bass to change that, one way or the other.