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Brandon Bass is putting in the right kind of work

Oct 5, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

brandon_bass_orlando_magic.jpgIn Brandon Bass’ first season with the Magic, he saw his playing time, points, and rebounds per game slashed despite Orlando having available minutes at power forward. He sat 32 of Orlando’s 82 regular season games (and seven of their 14 playoff games). Watching, fully healthy, from the bench. On a four million dollar salary. With decent per-minute numbers idly collecting dust.

It wasn’t Bass’ blinders-on approach to scoring or his somewhat troubling rebounding rate that led to his diminished role with Orlando. Instead, Stan Van Gundy spoke of Bass’ defensive limitations, and his lack of familiarity with the defensive system that is so vital to the Magic’s success. Bass may have been strong enough and productive enough to thrive as a sixth man for the Dallas Mavericks in the season prior, but he clearly failed to meet SVG’s more specific systemic needs.

Maybe Bass thought Van Gundy would eventually cave, and play him due to his talent alone. Or maybe Bass just lacked the discipline to really hit the playbook and the film room hard enough to earn a consistent spot in the rotation. Either way, something has changed, and Bass appears ready to learn the rotations and sets necessary to play his way into the mix.

From Zach McCann of Orlando Sentinel’s Magic Basketblog:

So Bass went to coach Stan Van Gundy before training camp and asked
to watch some extra film after practices. Now, after every scrimmage,
they sit down and analyze Bass’ performance that day. “Literally every day, we’re sitting down with him taking the mistakes he made in the scrimmage,” Van Gundy said.

Those mistakes, Van Gundy said, are coming less and less often. “I’m in way better position as far as knowing everything better with
the offensive and defensive system,” Bass said. “I’m feeling better
than I did last season at this time.”

When Van Gundy and Bass looked at some tapes of games last season,
Bass didn’t always hustle all the way back. He sometimes rotated the
wrong player on defense. And on offense he seemed hesitant on where
other players were going to be. Those were the types of things Bass noticed while analyzing last
year’s game tapes with his coach. He wasn’t fully aware of those
problems until his extra-hours study sessions with Van Gundy. “They’re little details that you don’t think matter, but it can help the team out a lot,” Bass said.

SVG is considering moving Rashard Lewis into more minutes at small forward, so the window at the 4 is as wide open as Bass is likely to find it with the Magic. He may have squandered an opportunity by not being better prepared last season, but as long as Bass is willing to do his homework, he could return to the 20ish minutes per game he grew accustomed to as a Maverick.

  1. LDR4 - Oct 5, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    I honestly do not see SVG giving Bass any more opportunities than he did last year, especially now that a collar and tie will be restricting blood flow to his head. Bass just isn’t one of SVG’s “guys.” Howard makes lapses all over the place on both sides of the court and plays all the time. No, I am not comparing Bass to Howard…for a number of obvious reasons. Bass does have the same get-to-the-hoop mentality though to go along with a nice 15-17 footer. There are plenty of players who are relegated to SVG’s bench for whatever reason is made up by the team and coach. Gortat should see more playing time. He looked better than Howard against the Celtics during the playoffs. There is a reason the Mavericks pursued Gortat. He is good. Bass was essentially an olive branch in that deal. Orlando matched and stole. They did the same thing with Redick this year. Redick is another player who deserves more minutes. SVG’s “system” is not the reason that players ride his bench. It is just who he likes to play no matter who else is available. If Orlando keeps matching huge offer sheets to keep players on their bench they will reach a serious impasse. They have more depth than anyone talks about and it is time that SVG finally acknowledges that or they will continue to pay for it in the playoffs.

  2. johnmaine - Oct 5, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    Roethlisberger’s return inspires testament to Steelers fandom http://bit.ly/cUYp1t

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