For Ed Davis, the future is now

Dec 14, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors forward Ed Davis (32) celebrates after making a shot against the Dallas Mavericks at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Mavericks 95-74. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Davis became a Raptor in 2010 when he was selected as the #13 draft pick out of North Carolina. Toronto management was pleasantly surprised to see his name on the board at their turn; he dropped because of concerns about a wrist injury which ended his college career. His pro development was slowed by a knee injury & he contributed little as a rookie. Last year’s lockout-shortened year was no great shakes either, & the whispers of “he’s a bust” began to increase in volume. This season, with the benefits of a full training camp & a rebuilt, technically sound jump shot, Ed has begun to make his presence felt. Andrea Bargnani is sidelined indefinitely with a badly damaged arm, so Ed suddenly becomes the starting Power Forward.

Can he perform the role, or will he flame out? I like his chances, & here’s why. Ed is not particularly quick on his feet, but he’s very quick when he leaves them. Ed piles up impressive rebounding numbers, the skill which is keeping him in the NBA, because he gets to balls in the air faster than almost anyone you can name. His second strength is positioning. He establishes himself early on the weak side, & pulls down many easy boards, because his cover, recognizing he’s too late, doesn’t bother to compete. Finally, Ed blocks shots – he’s not Serge Ibaka, but his quickness, positioning & timing instincts are of great benefit.

Coach Casey has knocked Ed because his production has not increased with more playing time. If Ed is giving Coach 12 points & 9 boards whether he plays 17 minutes or 29, that’s a serious problem. Nobody has mistaken Ed for the next coming of Tim Duncan (or even Charles Oakley) because his offensive game has been so limited. Until this season, Ed has shown neither the inclination nor the skill to post up his man & create a good shot for himself. When he receives the ball in a half-court set, he looks to pass (often after taking one needless dribble, a habit he needs to break as he’s inviting a double team, & a turnover). Only recently has he demonstrated he can put the ball on the floor & force his way into the key for a decent shot. He’s even shown sufficient confidence to take & make an elbow jumper, when his man plays him loose. Ed still suffers from bad hands, & chops up good chances because he drops passes. I think that’s something which will diminish with increased confidence; he now realizes he will have other opportunities to score.

I like Ed’s knowledge of his limitations. He very seldom tries a play he can’t make. A cynic might view this as a weakness, & it’s true his game won’t advance without him taking some chances on unfamiliar moves. However, there are definite signs of Ed emerging from his cocoon, & I always like an improving player. What he hasn’t ever shown is range on his outside shot. He’s tried one 3-ball in his career. Until he can step back & hit the occasional 20-foot or deeper shot, his ceiling will be limited.

Let’s wrap this up – Ed Davis is not a star in the making. With increased confidence & time on the floor, he will become a reliable double-double provider. I see him settling in the 14 point – 11 rebound – 1.5 block PG neighbourhood. That may not be The Bridle Path, but it’s eminently respectable, more than enough to keep the pressure on Bargnani to produce or get punted to the bench.

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.

 

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