Bass stepping into new leadership role

Bass stepping into new leadership role
October 12, 2013, 11:45 pm
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MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Boston Celtics had just completed a 111-81 thumping of the New York Knicks with the Celtics' locker room afterwards being an empty oasis of worn-out ankle tape, empty water bottles, a couple leaky ice bags and one player: Brandon Bass.

Bass being the last man standing is symbolic in many ways to his evolving role as the last man standing for a Boston Celtics defense that much like the entire organization, is in a period of transition now.

The Celtics traded away Jason Terry as well as core players like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the latter being the defensive czar for a Celtics defense that consistently ranked among the NBA's best.

"It's new for me," Bass said of his expanded role defensively this season. "Usually we have a 19-year veteran (Garnett) talking, doing all the communicating."

While it's definitely a far departure from what he's used to, Bass doesn't hesitate to embrace the challenge.

"I'm up for that," he said. "I'm willing to do that. I want to help my teammates."

And that willingness to support them stems from what Bass says has been a collection of teammates throughout his career who provided various opportunities that allowed him to succeed.

"Over the years, all the guys I played with made me better," Bass said, adding, "they got me the ball on pick-and-pops. I think it's my time to help others and make my teammates better."

Throughout the preseason, Bass has been one of the more vocal Celtic players, often making the calls defensively which is a significant departure for the soft-spoken veteran.

"He's trying to do everything we ask and I really appreciate that," Stevens said of Bass. "He's a guy that's been here, he's had success, he's had a large role and he's done nothing but everything we've asked.

Stevens added, "He gets it; he's been at the NBA level and he's a very versatile defender."

That was evident on Saturday.

While the Knicks rested a number of their best players, starters Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert both played.

At various points in Saturday's game, Bass who is 6-foot-8, was defending 7-foot Bargnani with comparable effectiveness that he showed when matched with a quicker, more explosive player like Shumpert who is 6-5.

"Like I always say, I'm always up for the challenge no matter if it's a point guard or a center," Bass said. "I'm going to give it maximum effort no matter who I have to guard."

By becoming more of a defensive leader, Bass has also found his role offensively and on the boards significantly different than past years.

In Orlando, he played with Dwight Howard so there wasn't a major emphasis on him to rebound the basketball.

And in Boston, Garnett was viewed as the team's board leader so the pressure to perform on the glass wasn't that great.

But things are different now ... very different.

"You know, we're asking him to be more of an inside guy than he's been in the past couple of years," Stevens said. "He's played more pick-and-pop (in the past); we're asking him to get to the basket and play at the rim."

Bass has averaged 6.3 rebounds per game in four preseason games along with 6.3 points and 2.5 assists per game.

"We have a different team," Bass said. "I might not get those shots (pick-and-pop) like I used to get, maybe right now. But I think it's more my time to help my teammates, make other people better."