Brandon Bass: What's The Attraction?

Here's this week's showcased fanpost. 3QC member 3.3seconds elaborates on why he feels signing Brandon Bass - one of general manager Otis Smith's targets in free agency - might not be a good move for the Orlando Magic. - ER

There's been a lot of talk on this site about Brandon Bass.  People are saying we should sign the guy.  Honestly, I don't see it. I have to admit, I haven't seen him in action very much -- but statistically, he doesn't resemble anyone who I could see contributing to this team. I've got a number of problems with him.

Size/Position: Brandon Bass is a 6'8", 240-lb. power forward. That's not large for a PF, and it virtually precludes him playing any time at center.  Moreover, he's not a SF either. Which leaves him as a one-position guy.  And that position is already filled by Lewis and Anderson.  So, if we were to get Bass, are we disrupting Lewis' game by moving him to SF part-time?  Or are we leaving Anderson on the bench, and slowing the development of a promising young player?

Offense: One of the crucial tenets of the Magic's offense is the one in/four out arrangement, which features Dwight Howard in the middle, while the remaining four players take their spots behind the three-point line.  Last year, we were forced to alter this arrangement on occasion, playing Tony Battie (who did not have three-point range, but did shoot the long 2-pointer) at PF alongside Howard. It was not a success; the long 2-pointer is by its nature an inefficient shot, and Battie did less to space the floor than a three-point shooter would have.  In fact, you can tell Van Gundy was displeased with the results, by the way he repeatedly tried to insert Brian Cook into the lineup.  (This failed, because Brian Cook is really not good.)

In Bass, we see another player who has no three-point shot.  In fact, his offensive approach is distinctly reminiscent of Battie's:

Battie: 72% mid-range jumpers (41% shooting), 28% inside shots (70.8% shooting), 48.9% total FG shooting

Bass: 59% mid-range jumpers (44.5% shooting), 41% inside shots (56.9% shooting), 49.6% shooting total

Bass may be a slightly more effective mid-range shooter than Battie, and a rather more prolific overall scorer.  But note that Battie was actually a more accurate scorer on the inside. This is in part because a startling 29% of Bass' non-dunk inside shots were blocked. (For all the other centers/PFs on the Magic and Mavericks alike, this number stands between 7% and 12%.) 

Bass is also not a skilled passer; his assist-turnover ratio was .50 exactly (43 assists/86 turnovers); Battie was about equal in assists, and committed fewer turnovers. 

In short, Bass is a slight upgrade over Battie on offense, but his skill set doesn't really include any weapons Battie's doesn't, and he is likely to suffer from the same clash with Howard that Battie did.  (If not more so, given his less accurate passing and increased reliance on the inside shot.)

Rebounding: Let's get right down to it: for an inside-oriented PF, Brandon Bass is a very poor rebounder. He played 19.4 minutes per game last season, and averaged only 4.5 rebounds. That's one rebound every 4.31 minutes. Tony Battie averaged 3.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per game... one rebound every 4.33 minutes.  (You know who else averaged 4.5 rebounds a game?  Marcin Gortat.  Of course, Gortat only needed 12.6 minutes to do that...)

But maybe this per-minute stat is deceptive -- there's some kind of pace-based anomaly or shadow effect at work?  Let's look at a fairly basic rebounding statistic: the percentage of available defensive rebounds gotten by Bass. (I'm limiting it to defensive rebounds because offensive rebounding can be so deceptive; it's so dependent on who is being called back to play defense, and who is assigned to crash the boards. Also, doesn't have a combined stat for rebounding percentage, unless I'm missing it.) 

Brandon Bass pulled in 15.8% of the defensive rebounding opportunities available to him.  As compared to his own teammates on the Mavericks:

Nowitzki 20.4%, Dampier 19.8%, Singleton 17.4%, Diop 17.2%, Bass 15.8%, Kidd 14.8%, S. Williams 14.4%, Hollins 13.2%, J. Howard 12.5%

So all right... Dampier is a rugged rebounder, and Nowitzki is the team's star.  You can expect that.  But... DeSagana Diop? Small forward James Singleton? Kidd's one of the best rebounding PGs in the league, but this is ridiculous.  Bass' defensive rebounding rate had more in common with little-used backup big men Shawne Williams and Ryan Hollins than with the team's most effective rebounders. And the Mavericks aren't even that great a rebounding team.

To put a more familiar spin on this, here's the Magic's top defensive rebounders.

Howard 26.5%, Gortat 23.3%, Battie 15.4%, Cook 14.0%, Turkoglu 12.7%, Lewis 12.4%

Again, we're looking at very Battie-esque numbers here.  And on offense, Bass got 8.9% of the offensive rebounding chances, to Battie's 8.0%.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, Anderson averaged 16.9% of his team's defensive rebounding changes, and 8.4% on offense. Looks like he's already at least as good a rebounder as Bass.

In summary: Statistically, Bass looks like a slightly more prolific scoring version of Tony Battie who can't play center. You'll note I've omitted the question of defense; I have no interest in hacking through a bunch of defensive metrics in an attempt to prove the unprovable.  I also have no interest in giving much more than the minimum to a version of Tony Battie who can't play center, even if he's the most fearsome defender the power forward position has ever seen.

One more note: what about potential?  Bass is only 24, and some folks have talked about his signing in terms of his potential to improve.  Well, it's possible he's got some , but... look at these two stat lines.

Player A: 19.7 MPG, 8.3 PPG on 49.9% shooting, 4.4 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Player B: 19.4 MPG, 8.5 PPG on 49.6% shooting, 4.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.1 TPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Player B is Brandon Bass in 2008-09, at the age of 23... Player A is Brandon Bass in 2007-08.  It's not a good sign for his development that, when writing out his last year's stats, I saved time by copying the previous year's stats to the next line and then editing them slightly.

This FanPost was made by a member of the Orlando Pinstriped Post community, and is to be treated as the opinions and views of its author, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

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