Through the Orlando Magic's first 18 games, backup power forward Brandon Bass has provided fairly consistent scoring to go with improved rebounding and defense. Now in his sixth season, Bass is averaging career highs in minutes (20.7), scoring (9.7), and rebounding (5), and he's scored at least 7 points 13 times. On the team, only Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis own higher scoring averages to date, and none is scoring more efficiently than Bass, as he leads the team with a 60.2 True Shooting mark.
A potential problem with Bass, though, is his reliance on the two-point jumper to create offense. Synergy Sports Technology data show him converting 33 of his 62 two-point jumpers, good for an elite rate of 53.2 percent. But subtract the two-point jumper from his arsenal this season, and he's shooting 28-of-56, or 50 percent. In other words, if he's not giving you those two-point jumpers, he's merely an average offensive player at best, as he doesn't finish well around the rim and has yet to develop a back-to-the-basket game.
"I practice the same shot every day, and I shoot a lot of 'em," Bass told the media in the Magic's locker room following their impressive win over the Miami Heat last week, in which he poured in 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting. And indeed, after each of the few practices I've attended since Orlando signed Bass last summer, Bass has stayed late to go through shooting drills with Magic assistant coaches. Every time, he goes through the same slow, unorthodox motion, with his guide hand atop the ball. And, though I haven't officially kept track, I'd estimate he converts upward of 80 percent of them in the near-empty gym.
Fortunately, Bass has worked hard in other areas to make it virtually impossible for coach Stan Van Gundy to leave him off the floor, so a regression on his jump-shooting percentages probably won't affect his standing in the rotation too much. The real question is how long Bass can maintain that torrid percentage on what is, for most players, the least efficient shot attempt of any kind.
There's good news to be found, though: in the 2007/08 season, with the Dallas Mavericks, Bass shot 67-of-122 (54.9 percent) on short jumpers and 44-of-86 (51.2 percent) on medium ones, so he's set a great precedent for himself with regard to converting efficiently over the course of a whole season. Additionally, his improvement in foul-drawing means he can still do damage offensively just by throwing his weight around in the paint area, looking for contact; 17.9 percent of his possessions have ended in a free-throw attempt, according to Synergy.
Nonetheless, his jump-shooting so far has proven key in the second-unit's ability to score, with Mickael Pietrus' 44.6 percent showing from beyond the arc the only other real offensive threat until J.J. Redick proves he's broken his horrid slump. If Bass' jumpers suddenly start drawing iron, Orlando could find itself in a spot of bother.
We should note too that Bass has a pretty singular offensive game: rarely does a volume scorer (one who averages 16 points or better per 36 minutes, for our purposes) reach the 60 percent True Shooting plateau without having the three-ball in his arsenal, as this list demonstrates.