Brandon Bass has been Orlando’s most pleasant surprise this season.
Last year, Bass struggled and played in just 50 games, often unable to even crack Orlando’s rotation and playing a lot of mop-up duty.
Despite becoming increasingly frustrated while he was on the bench, Bass continued to keep the same mindset and keep everything in perspective.
After falling out of the rotation last season, Bass worked extremely hard in the offseason in attempt to earn more playing time. Not only has Bass done that but there were situations in which Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy opted to start Bass when the Magic were facing bigger clubs.
After the Magic dealt starting power forward Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards for guard Gilbert Arenas, Bass became the full-time starting power forward.
“It feels good to start” Bass explained. “But it’s still a learning process for me.”
Bass’ desire to learn and do whatever it takes to help the team has been arguably his best attribute.
Without a true backup center, not only has Bass taken on more minutes as the starting power forward, but he must also serve as the backup to starting center Dwight Howard.
Bass has embraced the role playing alongside Ryan Anderson and has been complaint-free. Bass is just thankful for being able to help the team in any way possible.
“Every game is another opportunity to grow in every aspect of the game and find ways to help this team. That’s how I look at it,” Bass explained.
The improvement Bass has shown on the offensive end has been clear. Bass is averaging 11.2 points per game this season, a career-high. His previous career-high came during the 2008-09 season when he scored 8.5 points per game in 81 games with the Dallas Mavericks. Bass is also shooting 50.9% from the field, which is the second highest percentage of his career. Last season, Bass shot 51.1% from the field, but took just 4.7 shots per game compared to the 8.6 shots per game he’s taking this season.
Bass has had some big time performances this season, including scoring a career-high 27 points on December 3rd against the Detroit Pistons and a 21-point performance in Orlando’s come-from-behind victory over the Boston Celtics on Christmas day.
Bass has had 29 double-digit scoring games this year after having just 11 last season.
However, Van Gundy, Otis Smith and the Magic brass already knew about Bass’ offensive prowess.
Van Gundy would like to see step up his game in two different ways – rebounding and defense.
Despite being known as a good low-post presence, Bass, for the most part, has been an average rebounder and mediocre and that’s something Van Gundy and the Magic would like to change.
Bass knows he must become a more complete player in order for the Magic to be successful and he’s made strides to become just that.
“Whenever my name is called I come out, defend, rebound, bring a lot of energy, and score when I get my opportunity,” Bass said.
Bass has been a much better rebounder since becoming a starter. In fact, during Bass’ 21-point game against the Boston Celtics, bass also grabbed nine rebounds, despite being matched up with the likes of Glen Davis, Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett.
Bass had another solid performance on the glass in Orlando’s loss to Detroit Monday night when he grabbed eight rebounds to go along with his 12 points.
Bass has also been playing better on the defensive end despite the recent struggles of Orlando as a whole on that end of the court.
Van Gundy pointed out Bass’ performance against former number one pick Andrea Bargnani when the Magic blew out the Toronto Raptors Friday night.
“I thought Brandon Bass played tremendous defense on Andrea Bargnani,” Van Gundy said, following the game. “I thought that it was as good as it could be. He got down the court and he could make some of those shots, but other than the 3-pointer, he didn’t get many easy shots.”
Bargnani entered the game averaging 21.5 points per game on 46.6% shooting but, he scored just 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting Friday night.
Bass can also frequently be seen hitting the gym in the Amway Center to get shots up after games, rather than just showering, talking to the media and heading home.
Bass’ commitment to work harder and better understand Van Gundy’s system is obvious. If he continues to improve like he has, he could wind up being one of the keys to Orlando’s performance in April and May.
News & Notes:
- Detroit’s victory over the Magic was just their fifth road win this season and their previous four came against bottom-feeders (Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento, & Toronto (twice)).
- The loss ended an eight-game home winning streak for the Magic.
- Austin Daye scored a career-high 20 points for the Pistons.
- Former Magic superstar Tracy McGrady had one of his finest games of the season Monday night, finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
- The Magic will be back in action when they travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers Wednesday night.
- Ryan Anderson scored a game-high 21 points and is now averaging 16.1 points per game and shooting 44.4% from beyond the arc over his last 10 games. He’s scored in double figures 17 times this season, including 10 games in a row.
- Anderson also tied a career-high with three blocks in the game.
- Orlando will travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers Wednesday night. The two teams met on November 20th with Orlando squeaking out a 90-86 victory. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 25 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks while his counterpart, Roy Hibbert finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
- Orlando is just 38-41 all time against Indiana but the Magic have won nine of the last 11 meetings between the two.
- The best all-time scoring performance by a Magic player against the Pacers came all the way back on December 9th, 1993 when Shaquille O’Neal dropped 49 points at Indiana. Jermaine O’Neal (January 15th, 2005) and Reggie Miller twice (April 6th, 1990 and April 2, 1994) poured in 38 points against the Magic.