The calling for Brandon Bass’ exile from the starting unit has become common rhetoric among Celtics’ fans. He is averaging 7.7 points per game, and 5 rebounds per game this season. This comes on the heels of his career year last season, in which he gave the Celtics 12.5 ppg and 6.2 rpg.
Despite the struggles though, he remains in the starting five and Doc Rivers has made it a point to say it will remain that way. What is wrong with Bass though? What caused him to go from reliable, to the overpaid and underachieving sore of the Celtics’ starters?
The answer exists with someone who is no longer on the court for Boston.
No one has been more affected by the loss of Rajon Rondo than Bass. Bass received a contract extension worth $20 million this offseason, and much of that can be attributed to Rondo. Bass should probably be sending a portion of his pay check to the Rondo residence every week for his help.
Rondo created countless wide open shots for Bass with his dribble penetration, allowing him to simply catch and shoot. Without a true point guard in the lineup now, Bass has been forced to create shots for himself. That is not a strong suit in Bass’ game, and has led to poor and at times selfish shots.
His lack of offensive production has caused frustration to grow, but unfortunately for fans and the Celtics, there isn’t a better option.
With Jeff Green emerging as a strong component off the bench, many want Green to replace Bass in the lineup. There is a significant problem with that though.
Green would be placed in a difficult role. Coming off the bench, a majority of Green’s time is spent playing small forward. This allows him to use his height and strength against smaller opponents, creating an mismatch advantage for the Celtics.
Moving Green into the starting five also overlooks the benefit on defense, where his speed, length, and quickness make him perfect for guarding other small forwards. While Green has played power foward for small stretches, is it fair to now ask him to cover bigger and stronger players? That will cause him to take a greater physical pounding on a nightly basis, something his body may not be ready for.
After all, Green is still recovering from heart surgery, and just beginning to find his role. Adding Green to the starting unit also places further pressure on Kevin Garnett to anchor the post. Why change things unnecessarily? As the old coaching adage goes, “It’s not about who starts the game, but who finishes it.”
When it’s time to close games out in the fourth quarter, Green should and will be in the game, even if that means playing power forward. There’s no reason to wear him out early in the game though.
If Jared Sullinger wasn’t out for the remainder of the year, then this argument would drastically differ as Sullinger would be starting.
For now though, Bass is, will, and should remain the Celtics’ starting power forward.