In Brandon Bass’ first season with the Magic, he saw his playing time, points, and rebounds per game slashed despite Orlando having available minutes at power forward. He sat 32 of Orlando’s 82 regular season games (and seven of their 14 playoff games). Watching, fully healthy, from the bench. On a four million dollar salary. With decent per-minute numbers idly collecting dust.
It wasn’t Bass’ blinders-on approach to scoring or his somewhat troubling rebounding rate that led to his diminished role with Orlando. Instead, Stan Van Gundy spoke of Bass’ defensive limitations, and his lack of familiarity with the defensive system that is so vital to the Magic’s success. Bass may have been strong enough and productive enough to thrive as a sixth man for the Dallas Mavericks in the season prior, but he clearly failed to meet SVG’s more specific systemic needs.
Maybe Bass thought Van Gundy would eventually cave, and play him due to his talent alone. Or maybe Bass just lacked the discipline to really hit the playbook and the film room hard enough to earn a consistent spot in the rotation. Either way, something has changed, and Bass appears ready to learn the rotations and sets necessary to play his way into the mix.
So Bass went to coach Stan Van Gundy before training camp and asked
to watch some extra film after practices. Now, after every scrimmage,
they sit down and analyze Bass’ performance that day. “Literally every day, we’re sitting down with him taking the mistakes he made in the scrimmage,” Van Gundy said.
Those mistakes, Van Gundy said, are coming less and less often. “I’m in way better position as far as knowing everything better with
the offensive and defensive system,” Bass said. “I’m feeling better
than I did last season at this time.”
When Van Gundy and Bass looked at some tapes of games last season,
Bass didn’t always hustle all the way back. He sometimes rotated the
wrong player on defense. And on offense he seemed hesitant on where
other players were going to be. Those were the types of things Bass noticed while analyzing last
year’s game tapes with his coach. He wasn’t fully aware of those
problems until his extra-hours study sessions with Van Gundy. “They’re little details that you don’t think matter, but it can help the team out a lot,” Bass said.
SVG is considering moving Rashard Lewis into more minutes at small forward, so the window at the 4 is as wide open as Bass is likely to find it with the Magic. He may have squandered an opportunity by not being better prepared last season, but as long as Bass is willing to do his homework, he could return to the 20ish minutes per game he grew accustomed to as a Maverick.