When Brad Stevens took the head coaching job with the Boston Celtics and began poring over video from last season, one of the first tapes he saw was Boston's first round playoff series against the New York Knicks.

Among the things that jumped out at him?

Brandon Bass' defense.

Specifically his defense on Carmelo Anthony which was surprisingly solid considering 1) Anthony is one of the league's elite scorers and 2) Bass has been for years considered a less-than-stellar defender.

That series gave Stevens insight into how to best utilize Bass this season.

And the result has been Bass emerging as a major cog in how this team functions, providing the kind of presence at both ends of the floor that has been critical to Boston (9-12) remaining among the league's top scoring defenses as well as helping them keep pace with other playoff hopefuls in the East.

For Stevens, the success Bass' overall game has experienced this season begins at the defensive end of the floor.

"It goes back to what you see first and it was his defense," Stevens said. "That's what stood out to me first; his versatility and how good he was defensively."

Although Bass has often been criticized for being a poor defender, there aren't many players whose defense will shine when paired in the frontcourt with players like Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard - both Defensive Player of the Year award winners who were also teammates of Bass.

"I think that previously I showed I could do a variety of different things," Bass told CSNNE.com on Saturday after practice. "But you get on teams where they have 'that' and they need 'this' from you. I seem to get into a role and that's what you see from me. I'm a guy who works on his game. I just think any position I'm put in, I will find a way to be successful."

Gerald Wallace, a better-than-average defender throughout his NBA career, finds a kindred spirit with Bass when it comes to defense.

"He's very aggressive, offensively and defensively," Wallace said. "He plays hard, he plays every possession. He does everything he can to try and help the team win."

And with that desire, at least this season, comes an opportunity to take his game to another level.

As much as Bass has learned from playing with Garnett and Paul Pierce (both in Brooklyn now), he knew as long as they were around he would never have a serious shot of showcasing all of his talents.