With a much deeper roster to work with than in years past Boston Celtics' head coach Doc Rivers suddenly finds himself with a number of tough decisions on his hands going into the 2012-2013 NBA season, most notably – who to start at power forward. While in previous season Rivers has been strapped with extremely thin benches, and his only options have been to play whoever he had and hope for the best, going into this year he suddenly finds himself with three viable options for the starting power forward spot – Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Jared Sullinger. Yet while both Sullinger and Green have a lot to offer, Bass is still the best option for the starting lineup this year.
People look at Sullinger and Green and they see potential. They look at Bass and they see a finished product. This is understandable, after all Celtic fans only got a very brief glimpse of what Green could do in a Celtic uniform before he was lost to heart surgery, and Sullinger is a rookie and has received an absurd amount of praise from Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge. Bass meanwhile is seen as somewhat of a known commodity. He was very strong for the Celtics last year, both off the bench and as a starter. However because he has already shown a lot of what he can do in Boston people seem to think that he is no longer improving and thus Green or Sullinger have the potential to provide more as starters. In this writer's opinion that view point is way off base. Sure Bass' offense is what it is. He doesn't have much of a post game and can't really create his own offense. Green and Sullinger are better offensive players, and Bass will never have the type of offensive creativity that those two have. However those who made a close study of Bass in 2012 will know that he is only just scratching the surface in terms of what he can do for the Celtics in other areas. His offense is more or less a finished product, but he is just getting started on defense and rebounding.
Bass really struggled to pick up Boston's defense last year. He was repeatedly out of position early in the year, and never seemed to get fully acclimated to Boston's defensive system. However this was primarily due to the fact that the Celtics barely had a training camp and almost never practiced last season thanks to the NBA lockout and compressed schedule. Bass never really had a chance to learn Boston's systems, he just had to pick it up on the fly as best he could. Yet even with these disadvantages he was still an excellent individual defender, even guarding Lebron James at times in the playoffs, and with a full training camp and some real practice time he should be primed for a breakout season on the defensive end.
Yet while Bass' defense may be ready to take the next step where the Celtics need to see the most improvement from him is rebounding. He showed last year that he can be a force on the boards when he wants to, as he came up with numerous nights of ten or more rebounds. However he didn't attack the glass with the same kind of effort every night, and as result those nights of 10-12 were accompanied by way too many nights of 2-3. Bass has the wide body and leaping ability to be a rebound machine. He's a load at 250 lbs and has the low center of gravity and powerful backside made for clearing space under the basket. He just needs to make it a focus area. The Celtics need a rebounder to own the defensive glass and take some of the pressure off of Kevin Garnett. Bass can do that.
Again, the argument against Bass is that he is a finished product. He will provide consistency, but Sullinger and Green both have the potential to do more. However from this point of view Bass also has the potential to do more. His offense is what it is at this point, but if the Celtics' coaching staff can get him to focus on defense and rebounding the team will be instantly better. If Bass can lock in on defense and control the glass, all while continuing to bury his midrange jumpers, the Celtics' starting lineup will improve without actually changing personnel.
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