"Brandon Bass is a beast. If I had to simplify his game to as little as possible, there would be two major bullet points: mid-range shooting and rim-rocking dunks. While Bass' post game isn't exactly a vast repertoire, his turnaround jumper is excellent and his spot-up mid-range jumper even better. He gets excellent elevation, a pretty high release, and the results are silky. When he's near the rim, Bass' brain is telling him to do one thing and one thing only: tear down the rim with every fiber of his being. This dude lives for public displays of strength, and monstrous dunks are his showcase of choice. It's also a bit of a curse; Bass does have a tendency to get blocked going up by bigger defenders, or can pump-fake his way into a three second violation when he's caught under the basket."
-- Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game
I was able to catch up with Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game, an excellent site that covers the Dallas Mavericks, and ask him a variety of questions pertaining to the Marcin Gortat saga, Brandon Bass as a player and a teammate, and more.
For Third Quarter Collapse readers, you're in for a doozy of a read.
Click after the jump for the full transcript.
What are your thoughts on general manager Otis Smith matching Marcin Gortat's offer sheet from the Dallas Mavericks? If possible, could you comment on what the reaction has been from Mavs fans, as well as the front office, and others?
It's a huge blow to the Mavs' off-season. I was actually more excited about adding Marcin than I was about adding Shawn Marion. Given Marion's pedigree, that's really saying something. But Gortat would have brought size and potential to a squad currently lacking in both. To dangle that in front of my face and then rip it away at the last second...well, it's cruel, to say the least. After crunching the luxury tax numbers for the Magic, it seemed like a near impossibility for Otis to match the offer sheet. I had already penciled Gortat into the location, plugged him into my salary spreadsheet, and begun to hand-stitch a jersey for the Polish Hammer.
Most in Mav-land had done similarly, until the whispers of a Magic match began to circulate late last week. Since then, the fan base has been in grieving mode, shifting gradually through the five stages of loss. I'd say right now we're somewhere between bargaining and depression, which just ends up looking whiny and pathetic. That definitely includes me, as I could be found in my closet, curled up in a ball, and sobbing into a Polish flag not 15 minutes ago.
Those within the organization are spewing the standard company lines, but you can tell there's a level of disappointment there. It makes sense: The management can't be frothing panic in the press and expect to maintain any kind of negotiating power with free agents or in trade talks. But Donnie Nelson, Mark Cuban, and Rick Carlisle all had eyes for Gortat, and those wounds aren't going to heal unless they can sweep another center off his feet.
How big of a hit does Dallas take for losing Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat?
It's pretty big. Losing Gortat obviously hurts the Mavs in the present and in the future, and losing Brandon Bass only pours salt on the wound. The Mavs are now woefully thin at the center position, with no clear back-up to Erick Dampier waiting in the wings. Odds are the Mavs come to terms with Ryan Hollins, who showed flashes in his role last season with the Mavs. That's cool and all, but expecting Hollins to fill in as the back-up may be asking a bit much. One of the reasons Bass was so valuable was his ability to play center alongside Dirk. Nowitzki's a legit seven footer, but the more the Mavs can keep him out of the middle defensively, the better; Dirk's a sub-par defender on the inside and post defense can wear a guy down. Bass isn't a stand-out in the middle, but he was by far the Mavs' best option not named Damp. Finding some depth at center was definitely an off-season priority, and the Mavs have let two capable big men slip through their fingers.
It also makes potentially moving Erick Dampier a tad tricky. Damp's contract has an interesting provision that essentially makes him a huge expiring deal this year...except that his contract doesn't truly expire until the end of next summer. That means he could potentially be included in a deal for a substantial signed-and-traded free agent in the vaunted free agent class of 2010. However, if the Mavs' plans were to move Damp sometime closer to the upcoming season's trade deadline, their options are significantly limited by the shallow rotation at the 5. Unless the Mavs add another center between now and then or they're prepared to have Dirk log significant minutes in the middle, the management's hands could be tied. It's hard to accurately assess how missing out on Bass and Gortat could change that landscape, so right now all we've got is conjecture.
For Orlando Magic fans that aren't familiar with Bass, could you let them in on what type of player they should expect from him (both on the court and off the court) this coming season? Additionally, could you list his pro's and con's as a player?
Brandon Bass is a beast. If I had to simplify his game to as little as possible, there would be two major bullet points: mid-range shooting and rim-rocking dunks. While Bass' post game isn't exactly a vast repertoire, his turnaround jumper is excellent and his spot-up mid-range jumper even better. He gets excellent elevation, a pretty high release, and the results are silky. When he's near the rim, Bass' brain is telling him to do one thing and one thing only: tear down the rim with every fiber of his being. This dude lives for public displays of strength, and monstrous dunks are his showcase of choice. It's also a bit of a curse; Bass does have a tendency to get blocked going up by bigger defenders, or can pump-fake his way into a three second violation when he's caught under the basket.
Off the court, I wouldn't say Bass is a particularly notable personality. He's a funny guy (here he is imitating Dirk's "signature" pose), but not to the point where it becomes a problem. I think he's very much in touch with the fact that he had to work his butt off to get this far, and doesn't betray that history. He clawed his way up from NBA irrelevancy to your very own Orlando Magic, and though he's glad to see the bright lights he won't forget the darker times. This is a likable guy with admirable work ethic, which is about all you can ask for in a rotation player.
Bass' greatest strength is likely his shooting. He's also a pretty good rebounder, though notably not a great one. I think the rebounding numbers will deceive you, but keep in mind he was playing out of position at center for a good chunk if not most of his minutes. I would still say that his finishing ability is strong, even though he gets blocked more than most big men. That same aggressive mentality also puts him at the line frequently, where he is an excellent free throw shooter. Brandon also is quicker than most players that end up guarding him, which allows him to easily maneuver into scoring position. It also makes him an excellent clean-up man on the offensive boards or in loose ball situations. All that said, Bass still has room for considerable growth. He could definitely improve as a defender. His fundamentals in that area are still a bit undeveloped, and though he's improved by leaps and bounds since his early days in the league, he has a long road ahead of him. His ability to play solid help defense is a definite question mark. Bass also is not a three-point threat, which means more to the Magic than it did to the Mavs. He won't slide into Rashard's place in the offense without modification, which obviously isn't ideal. Still, I think you take what you can get with a player of Bass' heart and talent.
I know that Brandon saw the majority of his minutes at the center position this past season, despite the fact he's undersized at that spot. Looking at his defensive numbers (via 82games.com and elsewhere), it was clear that he was able to hold more than his own on that side of the ball. Could you elaborate on his defense?
The reason why Brandon can get away with playing center despite his underwhelming stature is that he has arms the size of tree trunks. Put him next to Dwight, and it may just look like they were cast from a similar mold. His shoulders and his base are broad, and his considerable upper and lower body strength give him a fighting chance against the NBA's big boys. However, that brand of D occasionally puts Bass out of position to contest shots. Considering he's already undersized for the center position, this is not a good thing. Bass should have no problem filling in at center for spot minutes or if Gortat changes addresses, but he's definitely in Howard's shadow on the defensive end. Well, practically every center in the league is, but you know what I mean.
It's also certainly worth noting that the Mavs do not have very good team defense. Everything I've seen from Bass has been through the Dallas lens, so it's entirely possible that simply putting him in a more accomplished defensive framework could improve his effectiveness dramatically.
Given his age, is there room for Brandon to improve his play?
Shyeah, absolutely. Brandon would do well to learn a few moves down low (he could definitely benefit from learning Dwight's sweeping lefty hook). I also wouldn't put it outside the realm of possibility that Brandon could stretch his range to the three point line, even if that very notion indignifies a body ideal for banging in the paint. His basketball IQ, while not bearing a negative impact at present, will undoubtedly continue to grow as he becomes more and more familiar with the NBA game. I wouldn't expect improvement by leaps and bounds, but Bass is far from a finished product.
I like to thank Rob for taking the time to answer my questions.