Marc Gasol was the anchor for this team on both sides of the ball. As devastating as his injury was, it should provide our back-up bigs minutes to prove what they're capable of.
Ed Davis has shown flashes of reaching his potential during his short tenure with the Griz, but has yet to have a consistent role in the rotation. Well here's his chance and a few reasons why I think he'll be very important to the Griz offense if they want to win some games without Marc, and capture reasonable seeding for the playoffs.
(As a side note, I'd like Ed 400x more if it wasn't for that boss quote. I wish he'd say he was just fooling around, which it looks like he is, but it just frustrates me. It really makes him seem like less of a team player than he's really looked to be the past few games, but this is just me over-thinking the hell outta it. Here it is in full (reporter in bold):
What’s one thing about you that people don’t know that they should know?
I’m a boss. I’m a boss.
I just do boss things, move like a boss, talk like a boss, act like a boss. That’s about it.
It did seem like a light hearted quick interview but still)
Ed Davis isn't a Marc Gasol operating a little further out from the hoop, but he has shown that he can operate well on the high post. He's a bit more of a triple threat (pass, shoot-eh, drive) than Koufos further out, and this should create a bit more spacing for either Koufos or Z-bo down low. It annoyed me that our big combo's against Houston were mainly Koufos/Z-bo, who both thrive playing down low, and Leuer/Davis, who both operate a little better further away from the hoop.
So out of our core three bigs at the moment (Koufos, Davis, Zach), two thrive in the paint (Zach/Kouf), and one can live outside it a little more effectively (Davis), so we really need to utilise his high post presence, so we don't end up with spacing such as this:
We need someone at that elbow, who can set picks further out and create movement so that all the attention isn't shifted to our big down low, usually Z-bo. I do think that Ed, rather than Koufos (who did have a few nice moments further out against Houston) can more effectively fill that role.
-Pick and Rolls
An obvious way to generate some movement away from the low block is the high pick and roll, which Ed has the length and quickness to be great at.
(Not the best example of a high pick and roll to create space for Z-bo, but you get the idea)
When he creates contact and drives hard rather than waiting, he's very successful, and it can create options for Mike, feeding Davis if he's open, rather than just dumping it down to Zach. Koufos is more of an inside orientated big that likes to bang down low with Z-bo, and isn't as quick in his rolling to the bucket as Ed can be.
(He's not perfect, and rolling would have created a better scoring opportunity here, although would have been a harder pass)
Here's Koufos in a higher pick and roll, he, along with Z, is a little slower and more effective in setting screens for curls down low (like the play Ed should have rolled on). Substitute Kouf with Ed, who could already be closer to the basket at this point to draw in Howard, creating more options for Mike (a good example of the TA/Tay problem) and more space for Zach. I'm not criticising Koufos cos he was fucking awesome against Houston, but it's just not really the situation he can excel at.
Ed's passing first caught my eye against the Pelicans, where he fed Marc from the high post really well twice in a row (sorry no pictures), but he showed nice vision against the Rockets with his passes, and he has massive arms so can rocket the ball around the court. He isn't Marc, but can make up for some of his passing ability out of the high post.
In this pic, the Spurs have just collapsed the interior even though Z-bo doesn't have the ball. Mike fed Davis who immediately saw this and rocketed the ball over to Prince, who missed (ARGH!!!)
You could say that maybe Davis should have fed Miller for the three, but this is a great high-low feed by Ed. He has shown a great willingness/ability to pass when he's been playing, and should assist in continuing the inside out style of play for the Griz.
Ed showed off an awesome drive from the high post to his left hand in garbage time against the Pelicans, finishing over Anthony Davis twice, but that's really my only evidence for this, hopefully he shows it off next few games.
He's not really going to thrive shooting from the high post, so i suppose he's only really a double threat from there.
It is going to be incredibly hard to come close to replacing Marc's offense, but having two bigs that want to bang down low play extended minutes together isn't the smartest way to start. Ed has shown glimpses of being able to play in the high post effectively, which would create a bit more space for Zach and Kouf, and create smoother sets offensively. He has played really well the past two games (in limited minutes), and hopefully can show why the Griz traded for him/why they should pay him over the coming weeks without Marc. I want to see more than 15 minutes of Ed next game!
(p.s sorry for no defense but it's almost the same, Zach/Kouf are better at staying in close to the rim, whilst Ed is more mobile in recovering and defending stretch bigs)
(p.p.s why didn't Pondexter play, wtf)