Welcome to a new series at FB&G where we will take one player on the Lakers’ roster and discuss one specific skill they possess. Sometimes it will be something very subtle, others it will be more straight forward. We’ll try to shed some light on how this skill can help the team in the coming season. Our previous entries can be found here. Today we look at Brandon Bass and his ability to finish in the paint.
Brandon Bass is a player best described as a “pro’s pro”. He is not spectacular at any one aspect of the game, but is well rounded and skilled enough where no single part of his game is easily exposed when on the floor. He is certainly better at certain things than others — his midrange shooting percentages bests more celebrated PF’s like LaMarcus Aldridge and Serge Ibaka — but, overall, he’s a player who simply does most things well enough that he’s not a liability.
Bass, then, is a very useful player and can be slotted into almost any lineup and be a net-positive. He will certainly help the Lakers in a variety of ways, not the least of which is his aforementioned midrange shooting, his smarts defensively and on the glass, and his general leadership as a seasoned veteran who has been around the block and seen pretty much all a player can see in a decade of NBA experience.
Where I imagine Bass will be quite useful, though, is in his ability to finish in the paint with better consistency than you would imagine a somewhat undersized PF would. While Bass only stands 6’8″ (which is probably a generous listing), he actually does a good job of converting his inside chances.
While Bass’ 60% clip in general basket area doesn’t seem impressive, it far outpaces what Jordan Hill (55.8%) and Carlos Boozer (57%) provided the Lakers last year. And while one might think Bass’ conversion rate is based on a lot of nifty set ups and drop off passes from guards who draw his man, that’s not necessarily the case at all.
The fact is, Bass is more athletic than given credit for, always seems to attack the rim hard (and, the majority of the time, with two hands), and truly is fearless when trying to go over-the-top-of or through a defender to get the basket. After watching some of the Lakers’ bigs last year (yes, I mean you, Boozer) play a more ground bound game where shots inside were consistently challenged and altered inside, Bass’ style will be a more welcomed approach.
While the clip above does show Bass creating off the dribble for a spectacular dunk, it is still important to note that in the scale of finishers vs. creators, Bass is much more the former. This is important when you remember the Lakers have a vast number of playmakers and shot creators on the roster who can not only occupy multiple defenders, but deliver some nice passes when the help arrives.
Bass, then, projects to be a nice fit when playing next to any combination of Kobe, Russell, Clarkson, Huertas, and even Randle. All of these players have good (to great) court vision and have shown to be willing passers. Combined with Bass’ good understanding of how to create passing angles and his ability to get buckets once the ball is delivered, and he should find a happy partnership with any number of Lakers’ shot creators.
Where Bass may run into issues is when he’s paired with other big men who do most of their offensive work close to the basket and/or cannot space the floor. Last year, on the Celtics, Bass was most frequently used next to stretch big Kelly Olynyk which allowed Bass to have a lot more space when working in the defense’s creases mid-range and in. This season, Bass is likely to see most of his minutes next to either Roy Hibbert (who can space to 18 feet, but will likely post a lot too) or Tarik Black. Their presence will cause instances where their defender helps on Bass and creates more difficult interior shots.
Ultimately, though, I still believe Bass will get enough opportunities as a roll man in the P&R, via dump off passes out of wing penetration, and out of quick duck-ins where his ability to finish inside will pay dividends for this Lakers’ team.