The case for starting Brandon Bass | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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The case for starting Brandon Bass

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) October 22, 2012 Brandon Bass, Celtics News 22 Comments on The case for starting Brandon Bass

A few days ago, WEEI’s Paul Flannery wrote a very convincing argument for starting Jared Sullinger.  And if Doc Rivers were to use those reasons as justification for starting Sullinger, I’d probably just nod a little and move on.  It’s a solid case.

But you can make just as solid a case for Brandon Bass, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  If you have two starter worthy guys at one position, that’s going to make the one coming off the bench very dangerous.  I just so happen to believe, however, that Sullinger is better suited for a bench role, at least to start, right now for the Celtics.

First and foremost, it’s Bass’ defense that stands out as the best reason for him to start.  Bass has developed a continuity with the starters where he has a full grasp of what is expected of him.  Everyone will tell you Bass is an underrated defender, but the numbers bear it out.

Bass is viewed as a stretch-4, a big who can shoot and stretch defenses because of it.  But, according to Synergy Sports, Brandon Bass gave up 0.69 points per possession last season, good for 16th in the league.  He was 14th in the league in isolation plays (0.58 PPP), 7th in post plays (0.56 PPP) and second in pick and rolls where his man got the ball (0.58 PPP).

Doc Rivers’ biggest gripe about this preseason is defense.  The Celtics, to quote Jason Terry, hang their hat on D.  We’ve known that since Kevin Garnett walked through the door.  If the Celtics want to make an impression on their opponents right away, then Bass is the guy you want on the floor to start games.  The Celtics only have seven minutes at the beginning of a game before Kevin Garnett comes out.  That’s seven minutes to establish their dominance on one end before the man who runs that D on the floor comes out.   This is no time to throw a rookie in there learning the ropes.

Sullinger has proven to be a better rebounder and post player than Bass.  You can toss it into Sullinger with his back to the basket and chances are he won’t hurt you.  He’ll either make a move and get a good shot off, or he’ll find someone with a smart pass.  He has a tremendous knowledge of where to position himself for rebounds, putting himself in spots where his odds of getting the ball go way up.

And that’s why I like him better on the second unit.  Bass has a better mid-range shot, but the gap between him and Sullinger isn’t as wide as some might like to think.  You can play pick and pop with Sullinger very effectively.  And if he’s not spacing the floor for Courtney Lee and Jason Terry to start the season, he will be by the end of it when defenses respect his mid-range game.  Still, it’s his rebounding and smarts that will help when Terry and Lee are on the floor.

Terry and Lee are tremendous shooters, but they take the lowest percentage shots on the floor.  If ever there was a need for rebounders, it’s when you’ve got a couple of guys who will be taking a majority of your long-distance shots out there.  Meanwhile, with those shooting threats outside, you can drop the ball into Sullinger without worrying about him being double-teamed… because who wants to double a big man with good passing skills when Jason Terry is waiting behind the arc?

Beyond that, I like Sullinger getting a chance to work against reserves rather than opposing starters.  I’d rather not see him go up against David West or Amar’e Stoudemire all that often.  Not yet anyway.  Let’s ease the kid into it a little.  He’s good, and his best chance to use the gifts he has now is if maybe he doesn’t have to face some of the best 4’s the league has to offer.

As Flannery points out, there will be plenty of opportunities in the game for Sullinger to play with the starters, and even together with Bass.  But at the start of games, I prefer the continuity of Bass with that starting unit.  I prefer to put a proven veteran out there to set the tone rather than a rookie who, as good and impressive as he’s been, is still prone to mistakes.  I prefer to spend seven minutes with your best possible defensive line up on the floor and hope to see teams call time outs at the 9 minute mark so they can adjust to the Celtics pressure.

I’m not saying that doesn’t happen with Sullinger out on the floor.  But I am saying it’s very much more likely to happen with Bass on the floor.  And when the curtain rises on the season, with the Miami Heat staring at you from the other end of the floor, would you rather have someone who has been there, and done that… or would rather have a rookie who can’t help but be awed by the stage?

I really like Sullinger.  I agree that he’s got the potential to be something special.  But I don’t want to go overboard after summer league and a preseason that often featured non-NBA, and second or third-tier talent.  I think he’s still got a lot to learn, and throwing him in there as a starter, while tempting, may not be the best thing for his development as a player, or the team’s development as a championship contender.

Start Bass.  Go with the proven vet, a really good defender, and a damn good shooter, and let the starters throw the big punches.  Bring Sullinger off the bench and let this promising rookie grow as a player, learn the game, and help the team, all at the same time.

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  • Cam

    Good arguments.

    Defensively I think Bass is more disciplined and knows his role better. Because of that id think he would help balance the second units defense a little better and could maybe even be a defensive leader of sorts for the second team.

    The starting unit would be able to “hide” sullys defensive issues and maybe help guide him and push him to be a better defender (kind of like how Bass was pushed last year)

    • Shawn

      Bass’s team defense is lacking at times and is also aided by KG, he’s grown a lot but still has work before he can be held as a Defensive leader. Also with KG’s 5-5-5 plan he always comes back in pretty much right when the backups do. Remember last year the amazing 2nd quarters we always had with KG and Bradley coming in.

      • Case

        2011-12 season: Bass’s defensive rating was 96.1, and KG’s was 90.8. Bass offensive rating = 101.1 and KG’s: 100.4. KG has better DReb % (26%) vs. Bass (16%). OReb is higher for bass.

        People forget that Bass had one of the highest defensive ratings on the celtics team. Even hollinger said Synergy stats showed that. And more than that, he picked all of that up in mere weeks of being traded after a long lockout, so he may not have even reached his defensive peak last season.

  • Shawn

    Not to mention the fact that bass is better at running with Rondo (Sullinger’s not very athletic) and can switch to cover some sf’s on pick and rolls (Lebron James in last years ECF). Also, the starters have KG to grab the defensive boards while there’s no one on the second team that is known to hit the boards hard unless Sullinger is part of it.

  • sigz

    Bass deserves it.. been there longer, and knows the system.. so he feel apart during the playoffs last year at least he gave 100%, there was a lot asked of offensively.. but I liked what doc said postgame,that the starting lineup might be different depending on the team, and I have to say I think that works in are favor..

  • RedsLoveChild

    Bass will be the recipient of “veteran respect”, and will be a starter.

    Rivers cannot run the risk of bruising his ego at this point, especially after re-signing for significant dollars and doing nothing to deserve losing his starting role.

    More importantly, Rivers sees that Sullinger`s talent demands that he be on the floor during the final minutes of a tight game.

  • OlSkool

    Well regardless of who you support it makes sense for Bass to start the season opener against Miami. Heat play a lot of small ball so it will probably be best for Sullinger to backup Garnett. The only player on the Heat that Sullinger can realistically matchup against is Joel Anthony.

  • Yeah, the Bass being a good defender remark is definitely a bit optimistic, he’s a pretty poor team defender and that accounts for at least 50% of his on floor defense. I don’t know if Sullinger is any better (preseason would suggest not), but for me it’s the weakest part of Bass’ game.

    • LA Flake

      And I thought I was the only one who thought John was being absurd with his remarks about Bass being a good defender! Bass is one of the WORST team defenders in the league because of his low BBIQ. He’s just terrible the way he switches late and just flat out not rotating. The only reason Bass’s numbers look decent is because he played with great team defenders who covered up his boneheaded mistakes. And I’d rather we lock teams down in 3rd & 4th quarters when most games are decided. Come on, John. How can you write up such nonsense?

      PS. Start Green if not Sullinger. Bass is an all-around liability out there!

  • Nathan

    good read. i agree.

  • eddysamson

    I dont know why people even want to start Sully. Bass did everything last year to earn the spot. Shit he did about 100 times more than we asked him last year. When no one else is scoring guess who is? BASS!

    Plus he fits in with the starting lineup MUCH better. I am sick of watching Sully not at all ready for a genius Rondo pass, I am sick of watching Sully and his block hands fumbling with the ball, and I am sick of watching them try to set up athletic plays for him that he just cant do.

    You know who can do all those things? BASS!

    Only advantage Sully has is rebounds and its only a slight increase in rebounds per game.

    • Joel

      Bass plays defense I’m guessing we’re talking abt another bass. Bass is no where near a good defender that shit cray if you would made a case for him being a good pick n pop player than sully I deff would agree but his game is just that

      • eddysamson

        Dude I didnt mention Bass’s D ONCE in my post. Where are you coming from with that?

        Having said that Bass’s D is fine, nothing extraordinary. but not really that close to bad either…

        • Joel

          It wasn’t meant for you lol

          • eddysamson

            Okay I thought so 😛

  • JG

    I’ve seen both under-hyping and over-hyping on here regarding both of these guys. The main points I agree with are that Bass has already developed very, very strong chemistry with this starting unit (evidence being their record since the all-star break last season).

    Another main point here is that Sullinger is probably better at making things happen individually on offense. Thus, his offense won’t rely as much on the better scorers being on the floor with him as Bass does. The reason why Bass comes up big when he does is because the attention is on guys like Garnett, Pierce and Rondo.

    These guys are neither as good as some of you are making them out to be nor as bad as you are making them out to be. They both appear to do the job they are asked to do, and Bass seems ahead of Sullinger defensively right now, whereas Sullinger is better at creating offensively, passing, and rebounding.

    You really can’t go wrong with either of them as the starting 4, but I agree that Bass should probably get the nod considering his reliance on other guys to score and his chemistry with this line-up.

  • MJ

    It all depends on match-ups. If you ask me, we’re not going to see a set in stone starting five this season because of the versatility in our frontcourt. There are some teams where I see Bass starting against, and there are some teams where I see Sully starting against. Hell, I even see some teams where I see Darko starting against. This team has so many options to go through I get more and more excited by the minute.

    As for opening night, I see Bass starting because he was getting it together against Miami in the playoffs and Sully being huge off the bench because he’ll able to rip through Haslem. No complaints about that is there?

  • kricky

    Not even close (for now).

    I like Sully, but he is still learning to play D in the pros. His pick and roll defense is still pretty abysmal. Scrubs like Copeland (Knicks) have been torching him.

    That said, Sully does some impressive things and will be great subbing in for KG at the 7 min mark on most nights (unless we are playing a legit center then we can go with Darko or Wilcoxs).

  • Doc himself said that he would prefer to play Sully with KG in order to take the tallest defender off sully. I agree that Bass earned the starting spot, but who can play along side Sully on the second unit so the size matchup still favors the C’s. Darko is aight but is he the backup center? Collins? Tough call but Doc may give Sully the starting nod purely based on second unit matchups. All good problems to have though!

  • Gary

    I think its really close , so tie goes to the vet. Bass is the better defender and shooter, while sully is the better post player and rebounder.

    The irony is that since sully isnt as good of a defender he should START so kg can help him on the defensive end and with kg on the floor the opponents tallest player will have to cover him, which would get sully a more favorable matchup. This does make sense, but at the end I think doc will go with the dependable, veteran in bass with sully in the mix for a lot of minutes (20-25 mpg)

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