Brandon Bass has been many things over his eight years in the league. He's been a second round pick, a bench player, a starter, the guy who replaced Big Baby and a guy who can drain a mid-range jumper like nobody's business.
Two words that never went together when describing Bass were defense and anchor. Coach Brad Stevens is looking to change that, from Jay King at MassLive.com:
He’s trying to do everything we’ve asked and I really appreciate that,” said the coach. “Because he’s a guy who’s been here, he’s had success, he’s had a large role, and he’s done nothing but do everything we’ve asked. I think like others, he’s going to be a lot more comfortable the longer we go.
“I told him this, I just brought him in and we watched a little bit of film – he’s a guy along with (Jared Sullinger) that I really like to see anchor our defense. Because he gets it, he’s been at the NBA level, he’s a very versatile defender, and he’s very capable of that. And I know he’s excited about that challenge. It’s something you can do through effort and talk, and he brings those things pretty consistently.”
While Bass is no slouch on defense, asking a 6'8" guy who has never averaged over a block per game, only averaged over six rebounds per game once and has never even been considered for an all-defensive team to be an anchor of your defense may be a tough task. Sullinger is also a hard sell as he can't really block shots either and is far from quick. You want the anchor of your defense to either be a guy who owns the paint, who makes opposing players change their approach when attacking the rim and picks up his teammates slack with help defense or completely throws opposing players off their game with tenacity and quickness.
It just so happens that the Celtics have a "game changer" who fits the latter. Avery Bradley should be the anchor of this defense. Ideally, you want the defensive leader to be a big man who can patrol the paint and bark orders to his teammates as the opponent attacks (such as one Kevin Garnett). Failing that, you go with the best defender you have. Sure, Bradley is only 22 years old, but the guy already made All-Defensive second team last season and some argued he should have made first team. Bradley's defense is elite. It starts and ends with him.
I get that this team is still trying to find its identity and Stevens is trying to figure out exactly what he has, but as much as Stevens would like to see Bass become an anchor, he just doesn't have the size, speed, leadership or confidence to be one. Bradley does need to work on his own leadership skills, but he's got plenty of time for that. With Bass quickly approaching 30 years old, he's 28, what you see is what you get. Great defenders and anchors don't get the keys handed to them, they grab them out of your hand. Good luck getting them out of Bradley's quick mitts.
Photo: NBA.com Eric Blaisdell 10/14/2013 07:56:00 PM Tweet Edit