Brandon Bass has stuck out like a sore thumb in Stan Van Gundy's offense. Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson were the favorite sons. Their ability to step back and launch 3-pointers at an inefficient rate made the Magic a force to be reckoned with.
When Otis Smith brought Brandon Bass into the fold in 2009, the stated goal was to give the Magic a way to have some added muscle down low and another post presence. Bass was a young player with a strong offensive game -- both in the post and with his mid-range jumper. But he had no 3-point range.
With his defense far lagging behind his offense, Bass sat on the bench for most of 2010. He improved his defense over the offseason and had a breakout season in 2011 with 11.2 points per game and a 57.1 true shooting percentage. He played in a career-high 26.1 minutes per game, earning his way into the starting lineup and freeing up the space to trade Rashard Lewis (who was greatly underperforming).
Bass had a truly great year last year and was one of the nice surprises. He was consistent throughout the year on the offensive end and his defense improved enough to get him on the floor.
Like I have been saying. The Magic's reloading will be built on the work individual players make to improve themselves. The team is simply too capped out, no matter the system, to make any super significant moves in free agency.
Obviously Bass has to continue working on improving his lateral quickness and strength so he can continue to execute and understand Stan Van Gundy's defensive principles. He also has to work on increasing his effort on the glass. Bass posted a 12.5 percent total rebounding rate last year. While Dwight Howard takes a good chunk of the rebounds, Bass should still do better.
One thing Bass probably does not need to improve too much on is his offense. It would not hurt though. And I am sure Stan Van Gundy would love to see Bass be able to step out and hit the occasional three.
That might be completely wishful thinking. But Bass is working to extend his range for the upcoming season among other things, as Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel reports. Not only that, he is working on his ball handling and passing with Jameer Nelson so he can cut down on his 11.5 percent turnover rate.
"I'm still at the point where I feel like I still have room to improve," Bass told the Sentinel. "I've been working on different moves, different drills, and a lot of shooting. I'm working on all aspects, but I'm extending my range a little bit. I have to make the adjustments of playing in Stan's system.
"I'm just trying to extend my range. Where ever that lands me, then that'll put me there. But I'm just trying to extend it."
McCann reports Bass has been bugging older teammates Jameer Nelson, Quentin Richardson and Gilbert Arenas to constantly work out together and improve. So you cannot say he is not a team player and committed to improving himself -- and some of his teammates along the way (Bass said Arenas looks a lot trimmer this year than last, by the way).
This is the kind of welcome news Magic fans want to hear as we wait for the season to begin. Internal improvements and development is really the best way to make the kind of leap the Magic want to make.
Photo via DayLife.com.