Charles Bassey has all the makings of a modern-day, rim-running center. The Brooklyn Nets don’t have that type of player on the roster.
Charles Bassey might not be a household name, but it has nothing to do with his talent. The former No. 6 high school recruit in the country chose to play his college ball at Western Kentucky. As a result, he didn’t receive the national exposure he would have at a blue blood school like Duke or Kentucky.
National exposure or not, Bassey has a big game. Although small ball was the preferred style for the Brooklyn Nets last year, they could use some size to bolster the ranks. Bassey looks like a prototype of the modern-day, rim-running center.
Bassey’s ability to protect the rim is his most valuable skill by far. He averaged 3.1 blocks per game during his junior season and 2.7 per game in his two full seasons at Western Kentucky. Skeptics would say that he’s playing against lesser competition in the Conference USA.
Believers in Bassey would point to his athleticism and size — both of which are NBA ready. The 6-foot-11 center has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and springs in his shoes. He’s excellent at timing his blocks, but he’s also athletic enough to recover with second, and even sometimes third jumps.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Bassey has all the tools to be an effective rim protector in the NBA.
Plays Above the Rim
So, Bassey protects the rim on one end and plays above it on the other. He fits snugly into the “rim-running big” archetype, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s limited offensively.
Whether it’s in transition or as the roll man in the pick-and-roll, Bassey has a knack for finding that pocket of space in the paint. Once he has the ball in tight to the hoop, it’s almost impossible to stop him from dunking it.
He’s a fantastic rebounder, which counts for playing “above the rim” to a certain degree. Obviously, cleaning up the glass will be tougher at the next level. But again, he has the size, athleticism, and strength for his game to translate.
Short Roll Passing or Shooting
It was tough to narrow this down to one or the other. If Bassey is going to tap into his high offensive upside, he needs to add one more weapon to his arsenal. Whether that’s passing out of the short roll or knocking down consistent three-pointers, he could use a little bit extra.
There is more upside there for his shooting. He shot a respectable 31.9% during his Western Kentucky career, mostly as a trailer or in the pick-and-pop.
Let’s be clear, Bassey doesn’t need to become a lockdown perimeter defender to be effective. However, he can become an elite defender if he becomes passable on the outside.
Even though Bassey’s bread-and-butter is going to be drop coverage against pick-and-roll, versatility is the name of the game in the NBA. There will always be a role for a rim protector, but teams will try and hunt out bigs who can’t hang on the perimeter.
Fit With the Nets
Jarrett Allen Replacement
No one in Brooklyn is having second thoughts about the James Harden trade, but the Nets missed Jarrett Allen. Despite the fact that Brooklyn was allergic to playing a true center in the playoffs, that would have been very different with Allen on the roster.
Bassey is cut from the same mold as Allen — a rim-running big who can anchor the defense. Even if the Nets continue to lean into the small-ball lifestyle, it’s not a bad idea to have a true center in the holster.
James Harden Second Unit
There are a bunch of effective rim-running bigs in the NBA today and Clint Capela is one of the first to come to mind. Capela formed a dynamite partnership with James Harden in Houston. Bassey won’t step in and replicate Capela’s production, but he can fill a similar role.
When fully healthy, Nets coach Steve Nash preferred to play James Harden as the lone star at the start of second quarters. Stick Bassey in the paint with three shooters around Harden and watch that unit flourish.
Although Bassey has first-round talent, he could wind up falling into the second round. He will be there for the Nets at pick 27. There’s even a chance he’s there at 44.