Brandon Bass has been hitting shots at an efficient rate in the last 10 games. And it is coming just in time for the Magic. Sergey Rozhdestvensky/Flickr/Photoree
At this time last year, Orlando was rolling into the postseason and finishing off one of the more impressive last halves of the season in league history. The rotation was set and the team was cruising.
Brandon Bass was outside that rotation. With no signs of ever getting back in.
The fourth-year power forward did not quite fit the mold of the Stan Van Gundy offense. While he could shoot from about 18 feet in and was good around the basket, his inability to hit from three did not quite fit the one-in/four-out model of Van Gundy's offense. Further, Bass was slow picking up the team's defensive scheme and was something of a defensive liability on the floor.
Bass was brought in to be some added muscle when the Magic had to face up with the Celtics or the Lakers later on in the postseason. But when push came to shove in the postseason as Orlando fell behind 3-0, Bass was inserted into the lineup too late. He made a small difference in helping the Magic stretch the series to six games, but it was too late.
Entering his second postseason, Bass IS the starter and someone Stan Van Gundy can rely on (although he does tend to use Anderson at the end of games more).
Bass did not have his best game Sunday, scoring five points on 2-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds. But up until that point, Bass has been playing some of his best basketball of the season. He is stepping up as the Playoffs draw near.
Excluding Sunday, Bass is averaging 14.7 points per game and shooting 59.1 percent. Until Sunday's game, Bass had scored more than 10 points in his previous 10 games and 11 of his last 13 games. These averages are slight upticks from Bass' season averages of 11.3 points per game and 51.6 percent shooting.
The consistency from Bass though is what should be noted most as the Magic head into the Playoffs.
What might amaze most people (especially those who follow that advanced statistics) is that Bass makes most his shots from mid-range, largely considered the most inconsistent shot in basketball.
Bass is shooting 59.1 percent on shots from 10-23 feet according to HoopData in the 10 games before Sunday's loss to Chicago, and Bass has taken 44 shots from that range (4.4 per game). For a team that really values the 3-point shot that is a not insignificant number.
It is hard to learn from one game, but his performance against Chicago is not quite something to overlook. The Bulls are a team that has two bigs and Bass would get the assignment on Carlos Boozer when Dwight Howard returns.
Bass had a 121 defensive rating against the Bulls yesterday and posted an 18.9 percent usage rate according to Basketball-Reference's box score. For the year, Bass has a 103 defensive rating while on the floor (it is worth noting that he is on the floor a lot when Dwight Howard is on the bench) and a 19.7 percent usage rate (which has helped Bass earn a reputation for being a bit of a black hole as the fifth option in the starting lineup).
Bass has never been afraid to get his shots up, that is the point of all this. And right now he is making them.
That is a good sign for the Magic who need his ability to spread the floor and crash the glass in support of Howard for the postseason.