Big Boss Man Ed Davis is one heck of a nickname. It is also somewhat self-proclaimed. (see above quote) Not only is it self-proclaimed, but also one of the most ironic nicknames in the league, since very little about Davis' game actually screams boss. Don't get me wrong. Davis has the potential to be a boss, but that's just the problem.
"He has the potential to come into North Carolina and be a dominant college big man." Injuries riddled Davis' college career, and he finished his career at UNC averaging a mere 6.7 PPG and 7.0 RPG.
"He has the potential to come into Toronto and be the starting power forward the Raptors need." Davis never materialized into that starting power forward the Raptors had hoped for, starting only fifty games in two and a half years with the team. His numbers actually decreased after his rookie season, too.
Now, Grizzlies fans get the pleasure of hearing the same song and dance about his potential that has followed him his entire professional career.
All this is not to say Davis is a lost cause. It's just that he, like so many other players that enter the NBA, has not fulfilled his potential. Yet.
First, a look at the stats.
|2012 - Ed Davis||81||20.1||3.2||6.0||53.9||0.0||0.0||0.0||1.3||2.1||61.7||1.9||3.8||5.7||0.8||0.8||0.5||1.0||2.4||7.7|
Davis was posting some of the best numbers of his young career before he was dealt to the Grizzlies in the Rudy Gay blockbuster trade. In 45 games with the Raptors this season, Davis averaged 9.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG. In 36 games with the Grizzlies, Davis' base numbers dropped to 5.5 PPG and 4.7 RPG. The reason his numbers suffered has just about everything to do with his minutes per game. In Toronto, he was playing 24.2 MPG, whereas in Memphis, he was only getting 15.1 MPG. Davis' minutes didn't drop because he was doing something wrong, per se. It was just that he happened to be dealt to a team with far superior big men than Toronto, which caused his dramatic decrease in minutes per game.
Although Davis' numbers with the Grizzlies were not flashy this season, his play was not devoid of flashy moments. Davis, after developing a reputation as a shot blocker at North Carolina, is finally showing that reputation is not unwarranted. Davis finished the season with 85 blocks. More impressively, he averaged 2.5 blocks on a per 48 minute basis, which was good enough for 19th best in the league. That shows Davis blocks shots at a high rate when he is in the game. He was not necessarily a bad shot blocker when he came into the league. It's just that he had yet to adjust to the speed of the game, which is a huge part of the development of young players in the Association.
Davis has always been known as an athletic big man, which is what allows him to be a good shot blocker. Davis shows off this athleticism when he blocks Utah Jazz power forward Al Jefferson in the clip below.
Whereas Davis exhibits flashes of the player he could become, such as in the above clip, he still has a long way to go to develop into a role player that gets twenty-plus minutes a game for a playoff team.
When breaking down Davis' flaws, you have to start with his free throw shooting. He shot 61.7% from the line this season, which is bad by every definition of the word. He has never been a good free throw shooter, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. The point is Davis shows no will to improve. He looks like a player that is still coasting on his natural ability to get him through his rookie contract. Davis has never shot better than 67% from the charity stripe, and his percentage decreased from last year to this year.
While I can't get in Davis' head during his free throws, I can certainly see several mechanical causes for his abysmal shooting from the free throw line. For one, Davis fails to bend his knees. This means he shoots more using just his arms to push the ball up there rather than using his legs as a springboard like the best shooters do. By not bending his knees, he his hindering the arc he is able to put on his shots, which would go a long way in helping him sink more free throws.
His other issue comes when he gets into his shooting motion. Davis has a very distinct hitch in his shot. Rather than shooting in one fluid motion, Davis cocks the ball back almost on the side of his head before bringing it to the top of his head. Then when it gets to the top of his head, he has the slightest pause in his shot, which is hurting his percentage. Check out what I'm talking about in the clip below. Until Davis learns to fix these things, he will always be a mediocre free throw shooter.
Whereas his poor free throw shooting is certainly a nuisance, the biggest cause for concern about Davis' development is his slender frame. Davis has always been slender, and he has yet to bulk up since he came into the NBA. This concerns me because it tells me he might not have the will to do what it takes to be successful in the NBA. His seeming lack of willingness to adapt his body frame and style of play to better fit the NBA shows laziness on his part in my opinion. Once again, he is coasting on his natural ability. He can't do that forever. That's what separates the flame outs from players with staying power. The ones that are willing and able to adjust stay, and the ones that don't head off into the land of the forgotten. Period. Davis' number one priority this offseason should be to hit the weight room and eat constantly.
On another front, Davis' post game has to improve for him to be a consistent factor on offense. His slight frame makes it difficult for him to post up even the slimmest of big men. His lack of a go-to post move doesn't help. For example, check out the play below. Davis' posts up Matt Bonner, not exactly known for his ability to bang down low, and he does nothing against him. Rather than taking three dribbles then performing a drop step to the baseline, Davis gets intimidated by body contact and chooses to shoot a turn-around, fade-away jumper. That's not what the Grizzlies want from Davis.
All of Ed Davis' post game is not lacking though. At times, he shows us what he could be and brings the p word to the front of our minds. Potential that is. The play below is a perfect example of that. The Grizzlies run their patented hi-lo action with two big men, with Davis playing the post man. Davis sets a screen for the ball-handler then sprints to the paint. He posts up and seals off Dirk Nowitzki beautifully. Gasol feeds him the entry pass, and without hesitation Davis takes one dribble to fake towards the middle before performing a killer drop step back towards the baseline. He then rises straight up and kisses the ball off the glass. Wow. It gives me chills just thinking about it. If he could only do that with some consistency. Check it out below.
While Ed Davis still has a ways to go in his development, it's not far-fetched to think he could soon be one of the Grizzlies best role players and for the foreseeable future. I'm not sold on him being the Grizzlies starting power forward of the future, but who knows given his potential? Davis has shown us flashes of what he can do this season. Now, it's time for him to stop being a tease and perform at a high level on a consistent basis.
Clutch Performance: C
Overall Grade: C+