When projected Top-10 pick Ed Davis fell to No. 13 (and the only NBA team outside of the U.S.) in the 2010 NBA Draft, most chalked it up to a wrist injury that cut his sophomore season at North Carolina short. Here’s a guy who some thought could have been a top-five pick as a freshman in a pretty talented 2009 Draft, now barely landing in the lottery as a second-year player in a weaker draft.

To put it simply, Ed Davis had gone from top NBA prospect to somewhat forgotten.

On the bright side, Davis was entering a young team in Toronto that was about to lose its franchise power forward, meaning he would get an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong. Then he injures his knee in a pick-up game, and proceeds to miss what should have been his first NBA training camp, his first NBA pre-season, and the first month (17 games) of his rookie season.

A guy who was actually compared to Chris Bosh as a 19-year-old while at UNC was now seen as an injury-prone 21-year-old who still hadn’t suited up in an NBA game. Outside of always hopeful Raptors fans, it seemed that most people had forgotten about Ed Davis…again.

Fast forward to December of his rookie season, and Davis is finally ready to make his NBA debut. The 6-10 big man puts up 11 points, six rebounds and a couple of blocks in 24 minutes of action in a win against the Wizards. He was efficient, played within his role, and seemed to have good basketball instincts. For the next four-and-a-half months, these are the kind of consistent, workman-like performances Davis puts forth.

Talks of an injury-prone young player were put to rest for the time being, as Davis went on to play in the Raptors’ final 65 games of the season, and slowly but surely, started to give Raps fans a glimpse into a possibly bright future.

Davis would finish his rookie campaign in style, collecting double-doubles in six of the team’s final 11 games, and finishing with a solid season stat-line of 7.7 points on 57.6 per cent shooting, 7.1 rebounds and one block. Those numbers definitely don’t jump out and grab you by the throat, but they are impressive nonetheless for a rookie big man who was a bit undersized and who missed those crucial pre-season steps along the way.

Now Davis will get a full training camp (all be it a very condensed one) and a mini pre-season (two games vs. the Celtics) to get ready for his second year in the NBA. Not to mention, he has added some bulk to his frame, which should hopefully help him bang and compete with the thicker bodies he’ll be going up against in the post.

If he can continue to be efficient on the offensive end and continue to show a great nose for loose balls, Davis will be a legitimate threat to average a double-double this season. That’s pretty impressive. In fact, almost everything about Ed Davis’ game is pretty impressive (other than his free throw shooting).

And yet, behind the athleticism of DeMar DeRozan, the enigma of Andrea Bargnani, the anticipation of Jonas Valanciunas and the personality of Amir Johnson, Ed Davis has become somewhat of the forgotten one in the Raptors rebuild (at least if you listen to what fans are talking about). Funny thing is, I have a feeling that if you asked NBA experts, like executives (not including David Kahn) and scouts, Davis might be considered the best young piece the Raptors have.

Don’t believe me?

Consider the numbers, which are more trust-worthy than I could ever be.

Let’s go back to that sometimes used comparison when Davis was in college. Chris Bosh. I realize that Bosh is a six-time NBA All Star who carried this franchise through one of only two moderately “successful” periods in team history, but their both left-handed, 6-10 power forwards with similar frames, who were both drafted by the Raptors, so let’s roll with it.

Bosh averaged 11.5 points on 45.9 per cent shooting to go along with 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 33.5 minutes per game as a 19/20-year-old rookie. I listed Davis’ rookie numbers, as a 21-year-old, in this post already.

Those numbers really shouldn’t be compared though, as Bosh played many more minutes than Davis did as a rookie, already had a more significant role with the team (Bosh started 63 games to Davis’ 17) and took an average of almost four more shots per game.

When comparing their rookie numbers, it makes much more sense to look at their averages per 36 minutes. And here they are:

Bosh: 12.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 1.1 APG, 0.8 SPG

Davis: 11.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 0.9 APG, 0.9 SPG

The only real advantage Bosh has is scoring, and again, that’s mainly because he was given/forced a much greater offensive responsibility, taking 10.2 field goal attempts per 36 minutes compared to Davis’ 8.4 as a rookie. Davis was a better rebounder, and despite the even block numbers, was a better defender than Bosh was as a rookie. In addition, he was a much more effective offensive option, shooting 57.6 per cent to Bosh’s 45.9 per cent.

Of course the catch is that Bosh had a much more developed all around offensive game as a rookie than Davis did. Bosh could already nail a mid-range jumper, had a good face up game and could even stretch it out to the three-point line if necessary, where as the majority of Davis’ rookie offence came from good old fashioned post play and put-backs. The other catch is that Bosh was 22 months younger than Davis was when each made their respective NBA debuts. Bosh was much further from his peak, where as you could easily argue that Davis is closer to a finished product already.

Is Davis going to be the next Chris Bosh? Probably not.

I can’t see Ed ever averaging over 20 points per game or even coming close to it, for that matter. But he should be good for double-digit rebounds and over a block per game, and he’s efficient enough around the basket to be a legit offensive option inside. If he can develop a consistent mid-range game, look out.

Looking at the numbers, it’s not crazy to say that Davis is the closest thing the Raptors have to a future All Star.

Given the tough, defensive style that Dwane Casey wants to implement North of the 49th, you could also make the argument that excluding Jonas Valanciunas, Ed Davis is the most valuable piece of the Raptors’ future currently on the roster. That’s not meant as a knock on DeMar or anyone else. That’s just a testament to how high Davis’ ceiling might be and how well his style fits with Toronto’s new basketball philosophy.

If he can stay healthy and is given an increased role this season, I have a feeling that come April, no Raptors fan will  forget about Ed Davis anymore.


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