Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Brandon Bass

The Boston Celtics currently occupy the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference with close to two-thirds of the compacted 66-game schedule complete. At some point in recent weeks each of the storied Green’s ‘Big 4’ of Pierce, Garnett, Allen and Rondo has been mentioned in potential trades.

GM Danny Ainge has been active behind the scenes in determining whether he should move one of his key players in order to inject fresh blood into the aging roster or let the C’s stand pat and make one last run with their once championship core.

Either way, 1st-year Celtic F Brandon Bass will be a key component of coach Doc Rivers’ plans down the stretch and into the postseason. The 26-year-old, 6’8”, 255 lb. Bass is in his seventh season out of LSU, where in 2005 he was named SEC Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Bass is averaging 29.7 minutes per game, 11.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg this season – all career highs. The tough, hardworking forward started the season putting up big scoring numbers. In four December contests he averaged 15.3 ppg and had one game of 20 points and 11 boards.

Bass has been a consistent front-line contributor for the team. Outside of a stretch in mid-February when he experienced swelling in his left knee and sat out the six games prior to the All-Star break, Bass has been night-in and night-out the most scoring-minded player on Boston’s second unit. He’s most often the first guy off the bench and in recent weeks has been inserted into the starting lineup due to injuries.

Starting C Jermaine O’Neal has missed the past nine games with a sprained right wrist and may be out for the season. And veteran PF Chris Wilcox will be out indefinitely because of a recent heart exam that showed a potential abnormality. Add to this the possibility that one or more of the ‘Big 4’ may be dealt in the next 72 hours and Bass’ role, minutes and expectations increase dramatically.

So far in March, Bass has averaged 30.8 minutes per game. And even if the C’s stick with their current roster, that number will certainly rise as Doc Rivers begins resting 17th-year Garnett, 14th-year Pierce and 16th-year Ray Allen for the stretch run and likely playoffs.

With virtually no training camp and preseason due to the lockout, Bass and other players switching teams in the offseason had hasty and frenzied introductions to new systems and schemes. With each passing day, players like Brandon Bass become more acclimated to their new environments and further integrated into their teams’ rotations, so look for Bass’ production to steadily increase.

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