Ever have those awkward moments when one of your friends thinks they are really good at something when they are actually terrible? You are all chilling, then that one guy is like “I was talking to ___ and she said I’m not good at magic tricks! Can you believe that crap?!” And everybody’s all like “No way! It’s crazy that she doesn’t think you are good at magic, because every time you do tricks for us, we in no way can tell that the quarter was in your sleeve!” But the whole time you are all thinking to yourselves For real though, this guy sucks at magic really bad. Also, why do we hang out with a dude who is really into magic?
Been there, bros. And apparently, the Celtics are there right now too. From The Boston Globe:
“I want to [take opponents in the post] but Doc would rather me just pick-and-pop but I want to,” Bass said. “That’s part of my game that I’ve always been good at over the years. But I think Doc just wants me to be a pick-and-pop because we already have the guys who do enough isos here, so I guess he don’t want me to be the third or the fourth guy to have the offense stagnant.”
Yeesh, this is awkward. I imagine that the conversation went kind like this:
Bass: Hey Coach, how come I never get to play in the post?
Doc: (thinking) Jeez, this is awkward. (Out loud) Erm. It’s a spacing thing. We’ve got a lot of people who play iso. Plus, you know, KG kinda has the post on lock, so we really just need you to pick and pop. It’s not you, it’s just the system, you know?
Bass: Oh, ok. (Walks out slightly dejected)
Bass isn’t a good post player, right? He looks awkward, he swivels his shoulders around strangely, and he’s not the right size for a post player. He’s not tall and lean like Garnett, able to beat defenders off the dribble, nor is he tall and big like Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard, able to body defenders out of the way. So there’s no way Bass can back up his talk, right?
Actually, hold that thought. Because while he might not look very pretty in the post, Bass’ numbers are surprisingly decent. He wasn’t elite, by any means, but his points per possession on post-up opportunities (per Synergy Sports) were 0.81. Tim Duncan, by way of comparison, was only slightly better, at 0.83 on post-up opportunities last season. Admittedly, this is far from elite, as Bass was 84th in the NBA in PPP on post-ups, but it’s actually higher than Bass usually ranks in PPP, as his overall rank is 93 (with 0.96 PPP) and at his highest usage, predictably spot-up opportunities, he ranks 147th at 0.96.
As always, the rank among NBA players isn’t as important as the points per possession, because regardless of how well other teams are playing, you want to have the highest efficiency possible, so having Bass take more spot-up opportunities than post-up is the right basketball decision by Doc Rivers. But Bass’ post play actually does check out. He’s pretty good.
How, you may ask? Well for starters, he has decent footwork. On this play he is badly defended (Kenneth Faried kind of opens the turnstile for him and lets him scoot right by), but he shows a quick, determined dropstep that leads to an open bucket.
Again, this play looked nicer than it was thanks to Faried’s defense, but Bass’ move displayed the kind of confident footwork in the post that you want to see from someone who should get touches on the block.
He can also utilize his jumper nicely. One of the many things that made Boston fans fall in love with Bass last year was the way he did everything that Glen Davis tried to do, just much more effectively in every way. Davis, especially in his last year with Boston, fell in love with the mid-range shot, even though he was very mediocre. Bass also likes to shoot from mid-range, but he’s actually good at it. And he can utilize that skill nicely in the post.
This video demonstrates some lazy defense as well, this time by Carmelo Anthony, but it’s a good indication of how Bass scores on turnaround jumpers. His step backward is quick, and he rips the ball up into the air too fast for the defender to do anything more than faceguard him (Melo does this half-heartedly here). Bass also has enormous shoulders, which can allow him to create some extra space for his jumper simply by taking up room.
Sure, at times Bass looks uncomfortable in the post. He turned the ball over 10.5% of the time he got it, and many looked like this, as he charged into the much smaller DeMar DeRozan, who may have dressed up the contact a bit. But even this is somewhat defensible: at least Bass recognized the mismatch and tried to exploit it, no matter how unsuccessful the result was.
So all things considered, Bass is better than you would think on the block. Not elite, by any means, and certainly not good enough to convince Doc to build the offense around his post play. But I’d go as far as to say that there’s a strong likelihood that Bass is better in the post than your buddy is at magic. So get off his back a little, will you?
Follow Tom on Twitter: Tom_NBA.