Commentary

Celts' Bass fishing for improvement

Updated: July 14, 2012, 5:38 PM ET
By Greg Payne | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Brandon Bass' word to live by last season was probably "consistency." He was the face of it for the vast majority of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign for the Boston Celtics, playing in 59 of a possible 66 games. He served as a reliable source of offense -- particularly with that elbow jump shot of his -- both as a bench player and eventually as a starter, while making considerable strides at the defensive end.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Bass
Brian Babineau/Getty ImagesBrandon Bass must score more, as Garnett focuses on anchoring the D.

For the next three months, and maybe even three seasons -- the length of Bass' new deal with the Celtics -- it seems like he'll prosper on the concept of improvement. Coming back next season as a better player was just about all Bass wanted to talk about after a news conference held Saturday at the Celtics' training facility to announce the signings of him and Chris Wilcox, as well as the impending completion of deals for Jeff Green and Jason Terry.

"I felt like I had a decent season [last year]," Bass said. "But me as a person, I want to improve in every aspect of my life, on and off the court. And when I say I feel like I'm scratching the surface, I feel like for me playing on different teams and watching different great players and how hard they work, and year after year they improve, that's how I want to improve. And I've got big dreams. I'm 27. Some of my cousins say I'm getting old, but I think I'm still young and I've still got big dreams of doing big things in the league. I want to make my imprint on the organization, on the team, and I think this is the perfect team."

Bass is coming off his finest NBA season, having averaged career highs in points (12.5), rebounds (6.2) and minutes per game (31.7), as the rash of injuries that depleted the Celtics last season eventually led to his promotion into a starting role. Bass' improvement will derive from the endless hours he'll spend in various gymnasiums this summer, sure, but he's often alluded to feeling comfortable enough within a team's system to let his game thrive. As he says, a true sense of comfort within an organization and a team can make the difference between a good player and a great one.

"[The Celtics have] given me a little bit more comfort than I've had my whole career," Bass said. "So that was great, man. It was great for me to know that the coaching staff, ownership, they believed in me. That's really given me a sense of comfort, and like I said, I think that's the difference between good players and great players."

Bass' determination to see improvements in his game and his comfort level will be strengthened by the fact that each already has a solid base. Bass credits his teammates and coach Doc Rivers for creating an environment last season that dwarfed those of other teams he has played on.

"My experience here from day one was great," he said. "When I walked in the gym, Doc told me I could play my game and I felt a sense of comfort, and each and every day I came here and got better, and that's what I want to do moving forward.

"For me, I think I'm just scratching the surface. In my head that's what I think. I still think I've got a long ways to go, so I'm ready to get back in the gym and work and come back a lot better."

Bass will most likely retain his role as the team's starting power forward next season -- an advancement last season that the seven-year veteran took a significant amount of pride in.

"From day one you play in this league, one of my goals was to be a starter and contribute to a team's success every game," Bass said. "And to get that opportunity last year was cool for me, and that's why I want to take full advantage of it and take my game to the next level."

Bass said he'll reach out to Rivers in the coming days to get his coach's thoughts on how he can further develop his game. Bass already knows he'll be returning to a locker room that appreciates and supports him, and with one less thing to think about this offseason, he can focus that much more on honing his game as he seeks to make the necessary improvements to it.

Greg Payne is a student intern for ESPNBoston.com

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