I’ve spent quite a few words this past week on Ed Davis’ recent play and his lack of minutes this season.
If you look at his last seven games, he’s averaging nearly eight points and nine rebounds in just 22 minutes, with the peak coming on Wednesday night, with a 13-point, 13-rebound, five-assist performance in a loss to the 76ers.
Hopefully the 33 minutes of playing time Davis received on Wednesday were a sign of things to come with just seven games remaining in the season.
My opinions on Davis’ minutes and his performance this season have been well documented. What hasn’t really been covered is Ed’s post-game comment after the loss to Philly.
Someone asked him how important he thinks this final stretch of games are for him to show the coaching staff something. He responded with this:
“It’s always important…every game. Because you’re still playing for 29 other teams…you know how the NBA works.”
I’m a supporter of Davis in this franchise’s future plans, but even I’ll admit that the quote is pretty suggestive. Someone asks you about showing your current coaching staff something over the final seven games, and your first thought is that you’re also playing for other teams, since the business of the NBA means you can end up anywhere?
It may have been an honest answer, but it caught me by surprise as a quote that was meant to grab people’s attention. Did someone say something to Ed that made him think he’ll be involved in trade discussions this summer? Does Ed, himself, want the opportunity to play elsewhere? Rightly or wrongly, these questions will flow through any fan’s mind when they hear comments like that.
On Thursday, Davis was back in front of the cameras in a seemingly happier mood. He responded to a question about an increase in minutes with a solid answer: “With Coach Casey, he’s not going to give you anything.” He also added that “everyone is happy when they’re on the floor and can help the team win.”
He talked about how the summer is important for him to get better because with “the draft pick” coming next season (I assume he’s talking about Jonas Valanciunas), there is going to be more internal competition.
Among those innocent and encouraging comments though, was another eyebrow raising one: “we’re still playing for 29 other teams and you never know what happen in the summer time.”
It really makes you wonder what exactly Davis is trying to hint at, but I still don’t see a picture of a guy who wants out of town or who isn’t committed to the Raptors.
I see a 22-year-old who is confident in his own abilities and in his ability to get better, and a guy who wants to be here as long as there is a legitimate place for him. I get the feeling that he wouldn’t be interested in coming back as the team’s fourth or fifth big, but I’m okay with that. As long as he knows nothing will be given to him, that he has to work for his minutes and earn his place in the Raptors’ future, I’m actually happy that he wants to play and be a factor instead of being content with a cheer leading role.
I think a bit of the perception that Davis isn’t as engaged or as committed as some of the other young Raptors comes from the fact that he doesn’t have a smile tattooed on his face and he doesn’t come across as the most outgoing youngster. Especially when you consider that the player Davis will be most compared to this off-season in terms of who to keep going forward, Amir Johnson, has an endearing silly side.
Ed talked about the internal competition within the Raptors next season, and you would have to think that a decision could be made between Davis and Amir as early as this summer.
For the record, here’s how their stats per 36 minutes break down this season, via Basketball Reference.
Davis is two years younger, has five years less experience in the NBA, has never had a full NBA training camp, is set to make a lot less money over the next few years, and is still giving the Raptors nearly the same production.
If the “Davis or Amir” debate interests you, then tune in to Friday’s RaptorBlog Radio, where you can hear me debate these points with RaptorBlog founder Scott Carefoot and host Drew Fairservice. We also have an interview with Jerryd Bayless that you might want to hear, as Jerryd joined us to talk about his season and his future with the Raptors.