We’re going to handle preseason player profiles differently this year on RaptorBlog. For each player on the 2012-13 Raptors’ active roster, Joseph Casciaro and I are going to email our thoughts back and forth and then post the resulting conversation on the blog. It’s an edgy new form of journalism! Or something…

Ed Davis, PF, 6’10″, 232 lbs.
2011-12 stats: 66 games, 23.2 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.0 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 51.3 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 67.0 FT%, 14.2 PER

Scott: Ed Davis is a difficult player for me to get a handle on. He seems like a decent guy with a nice range of big man skills, but he appears to lack the drive and hunger it takes to build on those skills and become a real force in this league. From his rookie season to his sophomore season in 2011-12, the only area of his game that seemed to show real improvement was his free throw shooting (from .555 to .670). It looks to me that he’s floating through his rookie contract on his natural ability, and that’s not going to earn him any more playing time this season in the Raptors’ suddenly well-stocked frontcourt.

Joseph, I know there was a time when you thought the Raptors should trade (or amnesty!) Amir Johnson and try to develop Davis, but do you still feel that way?

Joseph: It all depends on 2012-13. My whole argument there is that I don’t believe Amir Johnson is much better than Ed Davis, and if you give the much cheaper Davis the bulk of the big man minutes off of the bench, I think he can be molded into a solid NBA big.

But let’s not talk amnesty right now, I’ll probably end up trolling you on that topic later in the season.

Davis definitely had a disappointing sophomore season when you consider how well he finished his rookie season and even how good he looked in the season opener against the Cavs. Maybe it’s a petty excuse, but I do believe that the knee injury he suffered before his rookie campaign, which robbed him of a training camp and the first month of his first season, and then the lockout that robbed him of proper preparations for his second season, affected his development over his first two years.

Maybe it wouldn’t have affected a surefire top-five pick or an offensive guard coming into the league, but it had to negatively effect a young big man coming into the NBA.

As I’ve said before, I think the perceived lack of drive or lack of passion for the game comes from the fact that Davis seems to be very composed for a young player, and doesn’t usually show much emotion on the court. It reminds me of how Blue Jays fans assumed Colby Rasmus didn’t want to be here because he didn’t smile enough.

Scott: Considering that as of this writing, Rasmus has a .228/.292/.419 slash line, that’s not the most flattering comparison you could make for Davis. Aside from that, my opinion about his lack of drive is based on more than just his demeanour. I’d also like to see some kind of commitment to improved strength and conditioning. I haven’t seen any pictures from this off-season to give me any indication of whether or not he’s been hitting the weights, but you might recall that photo he Instagrammed last summer right after he got a new tattoo and he revealed the torso musculature of Weird Harold from the old Fat Albert cartoon. (Yes, I know I’m dating myself. Shut up.)

Until the Raptors’ frontcourt rotation suffers its first injury, it seems unlikely that he’ll rise above third-string power forward and fifth big man on this team. Whether that’s a compliment towards this team’s depth or an indictment of Davis’ lack of development is up for interpretation.

Joseph: Other than the fact that Bargnani will start at the four and that Jonas will eventually start at the five, I don’t think any decisions have been made when it comes to the Raptors’ bigs. Amir and Aaron Gray might get some starts at the five to start the season, but at the power forward spot, I don’t see why we’re assuming Amir is going to be ahead of Ed on the depth chart.

What I do expect is for one of Ed Davis or Amir Johnson to grab that third big man role this season, rendering the other one expendable.

Of course, Davis is probably the more attractive trade asset for other teams, so he might be the odd man out based solely on the fact that he can be packaged with another player for decent return.

Scott: I can think of no better way to sum up the importance of this season for Davis’ future than this tweet and Ed’s response to it in July. Ignoring the classy Twitter handle of the original tweeter, Ed seems well aware of how he’ll be viewed if he doesn’t raise his game in 2012-13:


Comments (13)

  1. While I understand Joseph’s Colby Rasmus comparison in terms of how body language is perceived by fans and analysts, the fact that Davis (as shown by his response to that tweet) seems completely aware about his shortcomings and his place on the team makes him exponentially less frustrating than Rasmus.

    Plus, we know what Davis is at this point and it would be a huge surprise to see him develop into something more than the first big off the bench for a playoff team so I think we’re appropriately managing our expectations of him. Rasmus on the other hand is still being touted as a potential superstar.

    • My issue is that there are plenty of fans who don’t even give Davis credit for having that “first big off the bench for a playoff team” potential. I understand that we’re not talking about a sky high ceiling here, but if a No. 13 pick develops into a reliable third big man for a solid playoff team, it’s not exactly a bust either.

    • Really? I think he’s the one guy who hasn’t been given a chance to prove himself. I think he could be a regular double-double guy if he was an every day starter.

      • Last season, he gave the Raptors virtually the same production as Amir did (http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=davised01&y1=2012&p2=johnsam01&y2=2012) and both project as roughly 10 and 10 guys per 36 minutes, so Davis probably could be a regular double-double player as an everyday starter. But first, I’d like to see him become a more consistent player off of the bench, and he’s going to have to beat out Amir for minutes to become that, which I think he can do.

        • Yeah, they gave exactly the same production… if you think shooting 58% is basically the same as shooting 51%.

        • Same production as Amir – against who though? Tristan Thompson? Other rookies he should be owning? Meanwhile Amir logging a bunch of time against centres and getting beat up.

      • I’m of the same opinion. Over the last few seasons neither Triano nor Casey seemed very interested in giving him substantial minutes, and some games he’s been downright nailed to the bench. This is what strengthens some people’s belief that he’s not motivated/not a “team guy” etc.

        However, he does seem to be capable of at least approaching double double numbers, so I can’t for the life of me understand why he wasn’t given more opportunities to showcase himself during the last two “rebuilding” years when the roster was clearly designed for a tank. If Davis finishes his rookie contract rotting on the Raptors bench instead of being given a chance to establish trade value, then the Raps really did waste a pick.

  2. I have a clean slate coming in with Davis this season. My first impression of him was smart kid who will learn to be a solid NBA’er and I expect him to show it this year, Yeah his minutes will have to be earned, but I’m banking on a solid 20-25 minutes of an improved game. As a comparison I expect JV to get 15-20 and some of it ugly.

    • He played over 23 minutes per game last year and over 24 as a rookie. I’d like to see him take a step above 25 minutes this season, assuming he earns those minutes of course.

  3. Here is the difference between Amir Johnson and Ed Davis in one number: 11%. That is how much better Amir shot than Ed from the mid-range area. They both took almost half their shots from there, but when Amir does it it’s fine, when Ed does it it’s horrible. The Raptors offense dies when Ed is on the floor. If he fixes the jumper, he will be great. If not, he’ll be an end-of-the-bench player for his whole career.

  4. I feel like Davis’s offensive numbers are skewed positively because he really doesn’t try anything outside of his skillet, which is extremely limited, and the deep bench situations he where he gets to play.
    It seems to me, anytime he’s up against any kind of size, he gets pushed out of the way and shut down. He doesn’t play with much energy either, so Acy will have him beat on his only semi-remarkable talent, which is rebounding. He’s not a passer, he’s not good on the run, his jump shot is a joke.
    Though Amir had a off year last year (against better players), I think he’s a far better all round player, possibly he’s Ed Davis a few years down the road (but why wait) or in a few years, Ed’s out of the league.

    • Well, how about this: 49% of Ed Davis’s shots were in the restricted area. He shot 71% on those. That’s his skillet.

      However, 51% of his shots were taken outside the restricted area. On those, he shot 33%. That is TERRIBLE, and it was more than half his shots.

  5. When you look at Ed’s rookie season — coming off the injury, no training camp etc., I think a lot of us thought he was the most promising player on the roster (not saying much, but still). He was a walking double double machine on a PER 36 basis, and that was without any semblance of a jump shot or any muscle on that skinny frame. He showed really good instincts for a young player, some nice touch around the rim, and I personally think he’s shown some nice passing skills for a big.

    I was really disappointed in him last season. I don’t care so much about the body language (Amir’s was way worse though, IMO), but he just didn’t look to have improved anywhere. He looked better later in the season, but only like a good version of his rookie season.

    No question he will have a limited NBA career if he doesn’t improve that jumper, but I can’t write him off so early. His shot looked at least a bit better in Summer League, and he does look to me like he’s been working on his body. He’s never going to be a brute force in the post, but that’s not the issue. Unfortunately, I don’t see much of a future for him on this team with the logjam at the 4, but you never know with trades. I never thought all 3 of Bargs, Amir and Ed would still be on this roster. If Bargs under-performs this season, and given his contract, who is to say he won’t be moved?

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