Name: Ed Davis
Position: Power Forward
Weight: 232 lbs.
College: North Carolina
Season with Raptors: 2
2011-2012 Stats: 66 GP, 23.2 MPG, 6.3 PPG, 0.9 APG, 6.6 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 53.2 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 67.0 FT%, 14.22 PER
Analysis: Ed Davis has the yips. I’ll flesh that concept out as we construct a full picture of this enigmatic big man.
Ed came to the Raps from North Carolina’s top-drawer program, after missing much of his sophomore season with a broken wrist. He was selected 13th, and Colangelo said he was surprised Ed was still on the board at that spot. The buzz at the time was that other teams were worried about the long-term effects of the injury, but BC took the chance.
Terry Davis, Ed’s father, was an NBA player for 10 years despite being undrafted. Dear Old Dad built his career, such as it was, on defence and rebounding. Ed has those genes, but can and should contribute on the offensive side of the game as well.
Coach Casey, when asked during training camp last year about Ed Davis, described his game as “non-descript”, then added “he’s always around the ball”. Well said, Dwane. Ed has been able to hold a job in the NBA for 2 seasons, based on potential and his head. His body is no better than OK. He’s not extraordinarily tall, nor is he a leaper or sprinter of note. [20 second timeout – I knew Tracy McGrady was going to be a special player when, in his rookie season as a Rap, I was at courtside and saw him leap for an offensive board. He didn’t touch the ball – but what a leap, folks. He left the floor at warp speed, and I thought we were going to have to check the rafters to find him. It was an astonishing display of raw athletic gifts, and an augur of things to come.] Ed has yet to display other-worldly physical talent, but what he does have is a nose for the game. He always seems to be mixed up in a rebounding scrum, or in a position to block a shot. However, Ed’s impact on the scoresheet is frequently negligible, because of the aforementioned yips. All of you golfers know what the yips are. You’ve got a 4-foot putt to save par, and you can’t take the clubhead back, because your hands are shaking. Or you do take the club back, then panic sets in, your brain can’t communicate with your hands, and your wild stab of a putt not only never sniffs the cup, but roars 9 feet past.
Ed’s seemingly impressive FG% of 51.3 is actually rather sad for a guy who takes so many of his shots close to the bucket. Watching him miss uncontested put-backs is a painful experience. I’d say the same about his mid-range jumpers, except he doesn’t take any, an issue I’ll come back to.
What I have trouble understanding is how a player gets to the NBA with such poor shooting form. Ed attended an elite basketball
factory university, and his ex-pro father must have taught him something, yet Ed sometimes shoots like he started playing last week. One jumper is a line drive that clanks off the iron; the next has a decent arc, but barely reaches the rim. It pains me to write these words, but Ed really needs to study some film of Chris Bosh’s jump shot. Both men are lefties, and almost exactly the same height and build, yet Bosh’s form is textbook, while Ed’s is…um…not. It is cheering to note that Ed’s shooting looked much better at Summer League, according to eyewitnesses I respect, and the video I reviewed.
Not all of Ed’s numbers dipped badly last year from his encouraging rookie campaign, but the critical ones did. To drop from 57.6%FG to just over 51, as noted, is not pretty. His games started, and MPG, also tumbled. OK, last season was his mulligan, but you only get one.
It’s time for Ed to stop being an NBA Apprentice, and take his Journeyman’s test. He needs to receive passes, and look to go to the hoop, rather than passing the ball every touch. His shooting percentage from 3-point land is – are you ready? – zero. That won’t work; he has to take, and make, jumpers from further away than 4 feet. And he has to take those longer jumpers using a consistent stroke, with a release point at the top of his leap, not at the (yips alert!) bottom. All of those enhancements to his game, plus incremental improvements in the other elements, and he will get his Journeyman status. I highly doubt he’ll rise to the Star level, but let’s be patient, and see if Ed can prove me wrong over the next few seasons.
Key stat to watch-ORPG: I know I’ve been harping about his shooting woes, but this number dipped from 2.6 to 2.0. He needs to pump that up well past 3, as a huge confidence booster and the best way to suppress the yips. A second-unit player who can score on put-backs, or at least get a fresh shot clock, is a popular fellow with coaches.
He stays on the floor if: He ratchets up his shot-blocking from 1.0 to 1.5. With Ed’s good positioning on defense, and nose for the ball, this improvement should be very do-able. I’d estimate that for every shot an NBA defender actually gets a hand on, he changes three. Ed will eat into the minutes of Aaron Gray & Amir Johnson if he becomes a feared defensive-paint presence.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.