Over his last six games, Davis has averaged 6.8 points and 8.2 rebounds – numbers that on their own, are far from impressive – but when you consider that he’s averaged just over 20 minutes per game in those six contests, the modest averages of about seven and eight are noteworthy. In fact, Davis is averaging 12 points and 14.5 rebounds per 36 minutes during this stretch, so his lack of floor time remains puzzling.
And it’s not like he’s been limited by foul trouble or is making bad decisions out there either. He’s committed four total fouls in his last 122 minutes of basketball and is only taking five-to-six shots per game over that span, converting on nearly 60 per cent of them. Unless you consider his low foul rate a sign of passive defence (and it very well might be), the only negative to Ed’s game over the last couple of weeks are his nine turnovers in six games, which is hardly unacceptable.
And yet, Davis hasn’t played more than 25 minutes in any of those six games, twice playing less than 20 minutes.
So seriously, what’s the deal?
We know James Johnson was benched for a specific reason (though we don’t know what that reason was), and we can all live with that. I’m fine with Dwane Casey asserting his control over the team and disciplining players when need be or benching players, no matter who, when their effort and overall play isn’t up to his standards. And as you would know from reading RaptorBlog this season, I’m a huge fan of the job Casey has done in Year One in Toronto.
But if there’s one issue I have with Casey’s season, it’s his management of Davis’ minutes. While you can lay some of the blame on a crowded front court leaving little room for Davis, that doesn’t explain why the second year big man still struggles to find consistent floor time with Andrea Bargnani out of the lineup.
Coming into the season, I thought Davis could enjoy a break out campaign for the Raptors. After all, we’re talking about a guy who averaged seven points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes per game as a 21-year-old rookie who had missed what was supposed to be his first training camp and the first month of his rookie season. Not to mention his strong finish last year, when he posted double digit scoring in 11 of his final 21 games and averaged 13 points, nine rebounds and a block over his final eight games.
The peak seemed to be his season opening performance in Cleveland, when Davis put up 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots…in 18 minutes. Perhaps his lack of minutes that December night in Cleveland should have been an indication for us that he wasn’t going to be one of Dwane Casey’s top options.
I haven’t exactly been impressed with Ed Davis’ sophomore season. He’s had an inconsistent effort, has looked downright awful offensively on some nights, and his defence seems to have taken a step back from last season. But when you actually look at the numbers, his production hasn’t really dropped off outside of his offence.
If he’s healthy and gets consistent playing time, Davis is already nearly a walking double-double as a raw 22-year-old. If he can develop even a remotely average offensive repertoire (and God knows he needs one) while maintaining his natural defensive instincts and ability, he can still hit a pretty high ceiling in the NBA, as he’s far from a finished product.
We always hear about how big men take the longest to develop and how patient we’re all going to have to be with Jonas Valanciunas when he comes over next year, and yet it seems that no one thinks Ed Davis is deserving of the same patience.
There’s eight games left in a season that’s supposed to be more about development and a draft pick than anything else. Personally, I want to see what Ed Davis can do with some real playing time against some pretty good competition coming up, and not be forced to spend the summer trying to figure out what to make of his season.
Simply put, we need to see more from Ed Davis, but just as importantly, we need to see more of Ed Davis.