If you listened to our latest edition of the RaptorBlog Radio podcast, you would have heard us discussing Ed Davis’ impressive performance against the Spurs on Sunday, and his overall impressive play so far this season, especially since being publicly called out by Dwane Casey.

Unfortunately, between a crowded frontcourt and the excitement of new arrivals like Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry, Davis’ role in the Raptors’ future seems to have been minimized by the organization and nearly ignored by fans. While we celebrate each head turning performance from Valanciunas and lament every face palming performance from Andrea Bargnani, it seems we’ve forgotten that a 23-year-old developing big man still resides here.

And that 23-year-old developing big man is off to a great start in 2012-13.

Davis currently sits fourth in the NBA in rebound rate and ninth in the Association in offensive rebound rate. In fact, through nearly a month of the season, the only three players rebounding at a better clip than Ed are Reggie Evans, Anderson Varejao and Kevin Love. In addition, Davis’ Player Efficiency Rating of 20.5 currently ranks 35th in the league, and he’s one of only 42 players in total with a PER of 20 or higher.

The catch, though, is that of those 42 players, Davis is 38th in minutes played per game, something that should caution us as to the small sample size of his impressive statistics but something that also begs the question, what will it take for Davis to earn more floor time?

The numbers suggest he’s on the verge of a career year. The rebounding numbers are up, his block numbers remain consistent at 3.3% (block percentage) and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes, his overall rim protection and defence are still strengths, he’s shown us glimpses of a much improved offensive game that includes a more fundamental jumper while also turning the ball over much less despite a higher usage rate. It’s safe to say that Ed Davis has improved across the board, and yet in a frontcourt that includes Valanciunas, Bargnani and Amir Johnson (not to mention Aaron Gray as a situational centre), he’s averaging a career-low 13.7 minutes per game.

When you think about it, it’s hard to envision any way Davis can really start logging major minutes in the current situation, and that’s a shame, because we already know what Bargnani is and we’re painfully aware of what he isn’t. We know what Amir is, and that’s an energetic bench big man whose inconsistent focus and propensity to commit fouls will likely always limit him from reaching a higher level. Amir’s dependable, but he’s not fooling anyone into thinking he’s the long term answer at power forward without Bargnani.

Davis, on the other hand, is in the sensitive stage of a big man’s learning curve and is slowly approaching the end of his rookie scale contract without us really knowing what he can be in the future yet.

On one hand, you could look at Ed’s disappointing sophomore season and his lack of major minutes this season as an indication that he’ll never be anything better than a solid bench big man. On the other hand, you can look at how highly touted Davis was as a prospect (he got as high as No. 4 in some mock drafts early in 2010), you can look at the fact that his development has been slowed by injuries and a lockout, you can look at how he finished his rookie season and look at how he’s started this season with excellent production when he is on the floor, and perhaps you can see a future where Ed Davis is a legitimate starting power forward in the NBA.

He needs to get bigger and stronger and he obviously needs to continue to improve his offensive game, but again, we’re talking about a 23-year-old big man in just his third NBA season, and most of us were preaching about how long big men take to develop while we awaited Valanciunas’ arrival, so it’s not fair of us to then turn around and say Davis is already a finished product at 23.

I’m not convinced by Davis yet – not even close – but I’ve seen enough to at least be interested in what a frontcourt of he and Valanciunas together might look like. My worry is that he’ll remain the forgotten big man in Toronto, end up somewhere else because of his more moveable rookie scale contract and then blossom into the player I still envision in said other city.

A future frontcourt of two defensive-minded big men who play the game the right way almost seems too good to be true for Raptors fans. A future where we’re crying about the latest “one who got away” – now that sounds more like Raptors basketball to me.

Comments (19)

  1. I share the same concerns as you.

    I had high hopes for Ed as soon as he was drafted. I thought it was a really good pick for 13th and was hoping he was going to be a starter. Now, in his 3rd year, we still don’t know what he is or isn’t because he hasn’t given him the same opportunities that DeMar and Andrea have been given.

    I can definitely see him leaving in a similar way that Bayless did (for nothing). Which is a shame because I think he could become the starting PF on a good team.

  2. ouch, the last sentence struck a nerve…

  3. Andrea Bargnani is a fucking stiff. The Raptors to not have a glut of talented bigs, they have one guy who is getting a ridiculous amount of credit despite stinking up the hardwood for six years and counting.

    And Ed’s pace and minute adjusted production has been consistently great since preseason. Casey is a shameless hypocrite.

  4. “When you think about it, it’s hard to envision any way Davis can really start logging major minutes in the current situation”

    Well the way i envisage it is the probable Bargniani injury at some point in the season, evne if just for a couple of weeks, it would give Davis the chance to prove himself with more minutes.

    • One thing I’ve been saying is that while I won’t ever wish injury upon a player, I wouldn’t mind if Bargnani was a random DNP with the flu, or a cold or something, just to see Davis and Valanciunas either start together or log extended minutes together.

      • This happened last season and Ed started most of his games at the end of the year.

        Casey still chose to start Amir over Ed while Bargnani was out for half the season.

        • That was pre-Valanciunas though, and Amir got those starts at centre most nights. I think if Bargs was out of the lineup THIS season, Davis would start as the natural 4, JV as the natural 5, and Amir comes off the bench as the perfect bench “combo big man”

          • Not sure he would though. I agree that’s the best lineup if Bargs gets hurt.

            But I wouldn’t put it past Casey to continue to start Amir if Andrea went down. If he couldn’t start Ed in an obvious tank season, I have my doubts that he would actually do it in a season with higher expectations like this one.

          • This.

            I’m not opposed to a Bargs trade with a good, but overpaid SF (Gay) coming back. As long as we can keep JV, ED, DD and Amir as the backup. Plus Lowry of course.

            Lowry, JV, ED, DD, and Gay would be a heck of a nice starting squad next season. All relatively young. Could be holy terrors for a few years.

  5. I am among the many who also wonder why Davis is not playing more. There are other concerns i also have about Casey’s rotation and who seems to be in the game in the last five minutes.

  6. Ed is doing much better this year, but he is doing his damage against a lot of non-starters. He is not a starting lineup player, and neither is Bargnani. This team has a long way to go.

  7. It’s not easy these days to defend Bargnani, or why Casey plays him in situations that many fans can’t agree with. No doubt his shooting was horrendous last game, and yet Casey kept him in for O/T.

    Why? IMO …. It was because AB defended Duncan better then anyone else. As Dwane said post game, in the beginning Jonas needed to learn how to handle players like Duncan, even if it meant hurting the team. Part of the learning process – an important priority for this season.

    But in those overtime periods – when winning takes over Casey’s priorities – it was Andrea guarding Duncan – who managed 4 points. One (scoring play) had the Bigs switching after a pick, and Duncan scoring. The other 2 points came via 2 free throw shots after JV fouled him.

    As for Davis, while I hope he can excel, one game does not make a justification for a change in his status (Starter?) – not that you’re saying as much …. more inferring is how I see it. That being said, I do believe Ed needs more minutes. I also think Andrea’s minutes need to be reduced – as 37.1 mpg in the last 10 games is too much.
    .

    As much as Andrea is the lightening rod for our bad start, one has to understand the logic behind Casey keeping AB in a game, especially when he couldn’t hit anything to save his life. Checking 82 games gives some justification for DC’s position.

    Andrea may be -1.6 points when he’s on the court, but when he’s off, Raps are -8.2, for a positive net rating of +6.6 (for Bargnani).

    Davis is -7.1 on the court, while the Raps are -2.3 when Ed is off the court, giving Davis a net of -4.8.

    These very numbers could be what helps Casey makes his decisions, in matters like the last game. But as stated above, I still believe Casey needs to make some court minute adjustments for two simple reasons:

    1) Get a better rested Andrea (in a very long season), along with minimizing the chance he reinjures his calf again.

    2) Ed gets more time in demonstrating himself, whether that be as a future member of the Raptors, or as a potential trade asset.

    .
    .

  8. I’ve been really impressed with Davis this year. It seemed like he was moping a bit his first couple seasons (disappointed with ending up in Toronto?) and that he’s finally embraced the fact that he’s gonna have to work on his game and bust his tail in order to earn more minutes. He must have had a good summer.

    I agree with RapthoseLeafs that the earned minutes come with a greater sample size, and I’m fine with that. Davis is making great progress playing largely against 2nd units – increase his minutes a bit, but keep him in that position for the time-being.

    I hope they keep him and JV long term.

  9. Trade Bargnani for some good SF like Iguodala! would be run N gun Raps!

  10. I think the fact that this team really has no outside shooters other than bargs and calderon. If you had both JV and Davis on the floor together the defense could pack the paint and make it more difficult for the guards to attack the rim. Not supporting bargs but atleast when he’s in the game the opposition has to guard him wherever he is on the floor

  11. I’d love to see what Ed-D could do on the court esp. if Bargs keeps being so inconsistent. now if we can swing a deal with the Lakers to get Pau and Blake for Jose and Bargs i simply say do it do it – wont help Ed’s cause, but I’d like to see him as least the #2 PF on this team and Amir just giving JV breaks from time to time at C.
    either way raps need to do something to stop the slide..why not change up your starting 5 already.

  12. Trade Bargs! The End. Fire BC. The End.

  13. It would have been nice to see some more Davis the last two seasons (you know, the “rebuilding” years) to let him play, improve (or not) and get a better sense of what they had. It’s three seasons in and you get the feeling that they still don’t really have any idea of what to do with this guy other than throw him scraps.

  14. It’s so stupid that we’re not investing more into him. I thought you would have brought up the example of Hump. We let him rot on the bench and now he’s starting for another team. All because our organization didn’t have their shit together. That’s retarded and the same pattern is playing out…again.

    Amir & Ed are the PF’s we should roll with going forward. They do what you expect out of big men. Like a lot of teams, it’s the SF slot where we need a star. We’ve being rolling with Bargs as our quasi -SF star and he’s too big & dumb for that. The number 1 point of order has to be to use him to get or position ourselves to land a quality SF.

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