Bass now a defensive leader with KG gone

Bass now a defensive leader with KG gone
October 4, 2013, 5:00 pm
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BOSTON — Brandon Bass' persona is about as low key as you'll find in an NBA player.

So you can just imagine the culture shock he experienced in 2011 when he was traded to Boston and had to play with the intense, always-energetic and of course, very loquacious Kevin Garnett.

He credits Garnett  for teaching him a lot, especially when it came to playing defense.

And those lessons, more than Bass' highly efficient pick-and-pop game, will be critical to the C's chances of having success this season.

"When I first got here, I was more reserved like I am on the court, off the court," Bass said. "Being around Kevin, he forces you to be more vocal. That's a part of my game, my defense that I'm going to carry on for the rest of my career. It's communicating loudly and often."

Defense was among the many areas that the Celtics were challenged by last season.

Not only did the C's finish just one game (41-40) over .500, but the team's scoring defense was ranked just 12th in the NBA.

In the five previous seasons, Boston's scoring defense was never any worse than fifth-best in the league.

Bass understands that during this transition period the C's are in now, it affords him an opportunity to establish himself as one of the team's leaders defensively.

Brandon Bass.

Team leader defensively.

Few would have envisioned that being a role for him when he arrived in Boston.

But to his credit, he has shown tremendous growth defensively and has actually shocked many in his ability to slow down some of the league's most prolific scorers like scoring champ Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and four-time league MVP LeBron James of the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

"You live for moments like that," Bass said, referring to defending the league's best scorers. "What I would have liked to do is go at him on the other end, make it a little more even. It was fun. I'm the type of player that's up for any challenge, at any given time. If you want me to guard point guard, 2 (shooting guard), 3 (small forward), 4 (power forward), 5 (center), I'm up for that challenge. I will try and give it my best effort. That's what I do in guarding Carmelo last year and LeBron the year before."

Although Bass played with Dwight Howard in Orlando, the Magic were not as team defense-oriented as the Celtics.

He will be the first to acknowledge that things did not click right away defensively in Boston.

But in time, his defensive play improved along with his understanding of what he needed to do in order to be effective both individually and in terms of team defense.

"I always took pride in being the best defender from Day One," Bass said. "Just being around guys that play defense at a higher level than you, it forces you to kind of raise your intensity and ability on defense."

But just because he has become a better defender and is the third longest-tenured current Celtic (140 games) behind Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, that doesn't mean he will start or see significant action this season.

"I feel that someone who has been here a long time, I have earned (pause) ... nothing," Bass said. "That's how I want to go about things, anyway. Nothing's given to me, and I don't want things to be given to me. I work for everything I've got thus far, and I want to continue to do that."