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.
Snarky George says
ESPN’s Annual NBA Future Power Rankings are in and the Lakers finish at 26th (out of 30). But we are making progress as we finished 28th last year.
Kevin Pelton’s comments:
Once a fixture in the top five of the Future Power Rankings, the Lakers continue to languish in the bottom five. There’s a little more hope this year — the Lakers have added No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell to a young core that now appears to include 2014 second-round pick Jordan Clarkson and 2014 lottery pick Julius Randle.
If the Lakers can lure a maximum free agent after striking out on the top players the last two summers, there’s hope of turning things around quickly — especially if they hang on to their 2016 first-round pick, which is top-three protected.
Still, the Lakers have a long way to go. They could be the worst team in the West during Kobe Bryant’s possible farewell season, and even entering the lottery in pole position wouldn’t assure the Lakers retain their pick. And if they do, it would be unprotected in 2017.
Snarky George says
My comment above was the last post on the previous thread. I tried to delete it there but I may have failed. My apologies if you had to read it twice (there and here).
Brandon Bass, although not an All Star, is one of those players who is remarkably steady, rock-solid, and consistent.
In the last 3 years he has missed only one game. One.
His scoring averages over the last 5 years have been the following: 11.2, 12.5, 8.7, 11.1, 10.6. As such, you always know what you’re getting with Bass: 11 pts., 5-6 rebounds per game, every night. There are no surprises.
Of the three FA signings, he’s been, in a sense, the forgotten one. But I think Laker fans will come to appreciate his workmanlike consistency as the year wears on. I truly think he’s a good acquisition. And he should be good for Julius Randle to practice against every day.
I liked Bass at Dallas. Solid game. I’ve been looking at him as a possible impediment to Randle which is completely wrong-headed. Julius is going to have to develop no matter who is on the team or he won’t be worth the hype. Bass is the kind of cat who would be a great role player on a contending team. As it is, he’ll put in the work like the pro he has been.
Craig W. says
We often try to analyze the team player-by-player, when we should be looking at how the team fits together. I think the fit on this team is very good. Mostly flexible veterans at every position, but no more than one such player. There is no way anyone could call this team a contender, but I don’t think that qualify as a ‘bottom 5’, as Pelton has implied. If only one of the rookies has a ‘Clarkson year’ we will be ok – and I think there is a real possibility more than one player will be a future starter.
I read posts about our stupid pick in 2016.. I do not want another rookie.. lets just compete now!
damn man! Stop posting that Snarky George.
The Pelton list was the Future Power Rankings—the list is looking ahead. Given that:
1. No one knows how good Randle will be.
2. Russell is 19-year-old PG who is seen as a high-variance prospect and will probably have a long learning curve.
3. Kobe is 37 and has not come close to being able to make it through the schedule either of the last two years.
4. The team is still down draft picks.
5. Serious questions exist about the FO and the coach.
6. The quality of the competition in the West is high.
7. The roster is oddly constructed in some ways and has some balance issues.
There is no substantive reason to have the Lakers above the Bottom 5 either for this year or for the next couple of years. If you look at the other teams at the bottom of the West, and even a few in the East, this is pretty easy to see. The only team that I think is definitely in worse shape than the Lakers are looking ahead is Brooklyn.
For this year, sure, the Lakers could be better than Denver, Portland, Minnesota, and a couple of other teams in the West, and they will probably be better than a couple of teams in the East. But in terms of what we can see presently, their talent/picks/management/coaching situation is Bottom 5. The counterargument is still Russell and Randle will be awesome and they will make a couple of big scores in FA. But those are just hopes right now.
Craig W. says
Then we can agree to disagree rr.
I very much respect Kevin Pelton. I think he’s one of the more insightful sports writers around. He was very probably simply fulfilling an assignment: Give your prediction of the relative strengths and power rankings of the various NBA teams and project that over the next several years.
However, I actually feel that predicting the future of this Lakers team is almost a fool’s errand. I say this because of the youth of the team (in some cases, extreme youth) and the fact that so many potentially key players are utterly untested. As I look at this Lakers team, I see more questions than ever before, questions that, at this point, are simply impossible to resolve:
1) Are Randle, Russell, and Clarkson truly the future of the Lakers? Will they be the “core” of the team going forward? Or not?
2) Will one of these 3 players have a breakout season this year or next? Will Clarkson emerge as the real thing? Will Randle finally get his legs underneath him and his confidence and rhythm at a high enough level that he will begin to average a near double/double later this season or next?
3) When will Russell mature? What is his real ceiling?
4) What other young players will join these 3 as solid rotational players: Tarik Black? Jabari Brown? Larry Nance, Jr.? Jonathan Holmes? Robert Upshaw? Anthony Brown?
5) Will any of the recent FA acquisitions (Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, Marcelo Huertas) be contributors over the next 3 years?
6) In another two or three years, will the Lakers have improved enough that they will become a desired destination for FAs?
7) What kind of defense will this team play in two years? With so many young legs, will they have the potential to become a defensive force collectively? And in general, how will they gel as a team?
These are all questions that, obviously, cannot be answered right now. And they may not be answered for another 2 years.
All we can do is watch eagerly from the sidelines and hope for the best. But the long-term future — with so many unresolved questions — is almost impossible to determine at this point.
As I say, all we can do is hope for the best. Anything could happen.