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Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:22

Report Card: Brandon Bass

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With the season over and the draft still more than a month away, we're taking a look back and assessing the season that was. That's right - it's report card time! Fourth in the series - Brandon Bass. 

Brandon Bass

2012-13 stat line: 8.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 27.6 mpg, 48.6 FG%, 86 FT%

Bass started out the season slowly, getting benched in favor of Jared Sullinger for stretches and even ceding a few starts to Jason Collins in late December, but he came on strong down the stretch, playing his best basketball in two years as a Celtic.  

Overall, the power forward's scoring was down considerably this year as he averaged just 8.7 points per game, compared to 12.5 a season ago. Granted, he did average three fewer minutes per game (27.6) than he did last year (31.6), but his per-36-minute scoring average still demonstrated a reduced offensive output, falling from 14.2 points per 36 minutes to 11.3. The drop in scoring did not come from any efficiency issues though - Bass actually posted higher field goal and free throw percentages this season. Rather, he simply took fewer shots. A lot fewer. Bass played 331 more minutes this year and took 43 fewer shots, per NBA.com. (Hoopdata has an even greater disparity in shot numbers.) The lack of a playmaking point guard was partly to blame as Bass excels at catch-and-shoot 16-23 foot jumpers. Still, there were times when he had quality open looks and seemed reluctant to take the shot. 

Bass also continued to struggle on the boards, where the C’s desperately needed help. His 11.2 rebound rate was a career-worst, as was his 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. 

Over the final three months of the season however, Bass started all 36 games while his minutes per game jumped from fewer than 25 to about 30. Over that stretch, his scoring and rebounding picked up and in March and April his field goal percentage soared from around 46% to 55% and 57% respectively.

And in the playoffs Bass was even better. His offensive production remained underwhelming as he posted just 6.7 points per game on 48.3% from the field and 6.7 rebounds but played terrific defense against Carmelo Anthony. Often taking Anthony one-on-one, Bass played an enormous role in holding the scoring champ to a brutal 38% from the field and just 26.5% from downtown.

Grade: B-

Without his late season run, this score could easily have been a C or C+. 

Bass is a consummate professional and by all accounts handled his often-changing role without complaint. He came on strong when the C’s needed it but Bass is capable of more offense (and rebounding) than he provided and that hit the scoring-challenged Celtics hard.

Now what?

At 27 years old, the LSU product has plenty of basketball left and his soft-spoken, hard-working attitude is undoubtedly appreciated by Doc Rivers. And with two years left on his contract - for $6 million and $6.45 million respectively - he’s certainly affordable, particularly if he remains a starter.

The answer to what Bass’s future holds then is really tied to how the C’s feel about Jared Sullinger and his injured back. The rookie played quite well in 45 games before going down with a back injury on January 30. Sullinger had surgery to repair a lumbar disk in early February and is expected to return in time for the start of the 2013-14 season but back issues have plagued him since his college days at Ohio State University and teams had major concerns about his ability to stay healthy when he declared for last season's draft.

If the Celtics believe those concerns are unwarranted and they have confidence in Sullinger's health going forward, it's possible they could look to move Bass. In an admittedly small sample size, Sullinger demonstrated terrific rebounding skills and an offensive game in the post that Bass has never developed. At just 21 years old and on a team-friendly rookie contract that pays him less than $3 million through 2015, Sullinger could make Bass a luxury the Celtics feel they could do without. 

Ultimately, given Sullinger's injury history, the safe money is on Bass playing out his contract with the C's, or at the very least, returning to Boston in 2013-14. 

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.