ORLANDO, Fla. — Brandon Bass has always been a man of few words, preferring to let his game speak for him.
But last season, as one of the few veterans on the Boston Celtics roster, he had to become more of a leader both in his words and his actions.
Bass' growth was most evident in his play defensively, often drawing the toughest assignment in the frontcourt.
Entering his 10th NBA season, the 29-year-old veteran is hoping for a similar evolution offensively.
"Defense is mandatory for me every possession," Bass told CSNNE.com on Sunday. "I just want be that way offensively. I think that it's time to be able to play both ends of the court at a high level."
Last season, Bass appeared in all 82 games for the Celtics while starting a career-high 73 games. He averaged 11.1 points per game which was the third time in the past four seasons he was a double-digit scorer.
But there were far too many games when Bass was solid offensively but far from spectacular.
However, the potential for him to be a bigger impact player scoring the ball is evident, especially when you consider how efficient he was last season despite carrying a heavier load defensively.
Among players to appear in all 82 regular season games last season, only two - Detroit's Greg Monroe (18.16) and Chicago's Taj Gibson (16.09) - had a higher player efficiency rating than Bass' 15.01.
Known for his pick-and-pop game, Bass should benefit offensively from a healthy Rajon Rondo to start the season.
The four-time All-star did not enter the Celtics lineup until January after suffering a torn right ACL injury in January of 2013. Even upon Rondo's return, he was limited in terms of minutes played and did not play in any back-to-back games.
While that will help, Bass understands that the improvements to his game this fall begin with the work he puts in now.
"As far as my summer is going, I feel I'm a better basketball player," Bass said. "I'm trying to enhance the things I'm great at and improve on the things I'm weak at. I definitely improved as far as the summer."
This past season, Bass began to put the ball on the floor more often and tried to score by beating players off the dribble. In addition, he displayed more of a back-to-the-basket game which we have seldom seen from him throughout his playing career.
Bass spent part of Sunday with the Celtics' summer league team here in Orlando, which is where Bass lives in the offseason.
They roster is full of talented dreamers, players whose hopes of being an NBA player - not a star, but a player - could not be any closer.
It can a nervous time for the majority of the players on the team that do not have guaranteed contracts.
Bass knows their anxiety and their concerns all too well.
A former second-round pick out of LSU, Bass' humble beginnings have created a greater sense of appreciation for what he has as well as for the players hoping to blaze a similar trail to his.
"They don't come and talk to me, but what they don't know is that I'm a fan of theirs," said Bass. "I understand their struggle and where they're coming from and how hard and how valuable these times are in their career. I'm a fan. And hopefully some of the guys can look up to me for inspiration."
Heading into his 10th NBA season, there's no need to remind Bass of how fortunate he is to still be in the NBA.
Drafted in the second round with the No. 33 pick by New Orleans, about half of the players selected ahead of him are no longer in the NBA.
"I'm definitely grateful for it," Bass said. "Every day I think about it, talking to family and friends about it, how my career started and going into my tenth year, it's a blessing."
Part of his success has been the willingness of more seasoned players along his journey to help with advice and tips on how to be a solid professional.
Marcus Smart, the Celtics' first-round pick in last month's draft, is among the players Bass has reached out to already.
"We know the same people," Bass said of Smart. "We were coached by the same coach, Butch Pierre (an assistant coach at LSU when Bass played for the Tigers, and an assistant at Oklahoma State when Smart played there). Butch told me to make sure I take care of him. It's always good to have someone connect the dots with you and is one of your teammates."
The improved play defensively.
Being there for young players like Smart.
It's all part of the evolution of Bass whose focus this season will be continuing to inch closer to being as complete a player as possible.
"I just want to make sure I'm prepared well enough to be great at both ends of the floor," Bass said.