Toronto Raptors: Terence Davis is here to stay

Toronto Raptors - Terence Davis (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Terence Davis (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have a recent history of finding diamonds in the rough. Undrafted guard Terence Davis looks to be the next player to fit that mold.

The Toronto Raptors are slowly being credited for their amazing player development by basketball fans across North America. Is it due to the fact that the Raptors have remained contenders despite losing the best player in the league?

Or, is it due to the fact that Toronto has set the example that there are more ways to develop a team than through the draft?

No matter the scenario, one thing is for sure: The Raptors have been spot-on in developing talent during this current era, and the latest product of that is Terence Davis; the undrafted upstart rookie from Ole Miss.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: An undrafted, undersized guard with major question marks out of college joins the Toronto Raptors and makes an impact that leaves you wondering how 29 other teams could have possibly passed him up.

Sound familiar? Of course, because Fred VanVleet walked so Terence Davis could run.

In all seriousness, the Terence Davis story emulates Fred’s rise to NBA stardom perfectly, to the point where the similarities are somewhat eerie. This has resulted in a friendship between VanVleet and Davis, a friendship that continues to prove just how important Davis is to this current Raptors squad. But it wasn’t always this easy for the Ole Miss product.

Terence Davis had an opportunity to be drafted and become a 2-way-player, but turned teams down and decided to try his chances at the NBA Summer League instead. Davis played for the Denver Nuggets in Summer League and off of the back of a few impressive performances, received several offers, including a guaranteed contract from the Toronto Raptors.

The shooting guard is listed at 6-foot-4, which is fairly undersized for a two-guard. That lack of height, inconsistent shot and high turnover numbers during his 4 years at Ole Miss scared many teams away, but just like with Fred Vanvleet, the Raptors saw things that many other teams missed.

Terence is an aggressive defender with an extremely high work rate, and although his shot wasn’t standout in college, he is not afraid to let it fly from anywhere on the court if it’s within the rhythm of the offense. He rebounds extremely very well for a guard, especially at his height, and fits right into the style of team-defense that Nick Nurse places extreme emphasis on.

As the 2019-2020 season began, many became concerned about the Raptors’ lack of depth. With the Gasol trade and departing stars from last season, the bench had been thinned out, and new additions Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had already been called out for their lack of defensive effort in pre-season.

As the first few games of the season went by, Davis was a part of the rotation, but was not very involved in the offense, and was a part of a bench that looked very short and unreliable. It seemed as if Nurse had little trust in his bench and was keeping a very tight rotation, but that provided Davis with a chance. He looked like one of the few bench players that Nurse trusted.

With the injuries to Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, Nick Nurse was forced to adapt, and the Raptors to this point have made the most of a bad situation. Coach Nurse was forced to go deeper into his bench, and it has allowed for the entire reserve unit to come alive, especially Chris Boucher and Hollis-Jefferson. For Terence though, it transformed him from a mystery bench player that could soak up minutes, to a key asset and vital piece of the puzzle.

Since the beginning of November, Davis has been given a larger opportunity and taken full advantage. Davis has featured prominently for the Raptors in the last 12 games. In those games, he’s shot the ball at 52-percent from the field and has somehow managed to shoot a great 44-percent from behind the three-point arc. He’s scored in double digits six times, topped off by an incredible 19-point performance in the Raptors win over Orlando on November 20.

Just like almost every other Raptors youngster in recent memory, Davis has taken full advantage of his chances and seems to be developing at an insane rate.

With the Raptors surging to start the season at 14-4, and Terence Davis starting to find a real groove, it’s hard to believe that Davis’ minutes would be cut back even when Lowry and Ibaka get thrown back into the fold. His rotation spot is one that seems to be solidified, and although the hype train has to remain on the tracks, the hidden little secret that was the 6-foot-4 undrafted guard from Ole Miss is hitting the mainstream.

Terence Davis has claimed multiple times that VanVleet’s “bet on yourself” mantra is one that he has followed closely, and it makes sense that he has. Both Fred and Terence share a similar story and have very similar heart. They are team-first players who every organization in the league would love to have on their squad. Every team in the league had that chance, and every single one missed the ball; except Toronto.

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There once was a belief that VanVleet would be a flash in the pan, and now he’s on his way to a very-large contract next summer. Although Terence Davis hasn’t quite proven it for the amount of time as his new best buddy Fred or done it at the stage that Vanvleet has, he’s hitting all of the marks that VanVleet hit in his second season, and he’s only a rookie. While the rest of his career path is uncertain, one thing is for sure: Terence Davis is here to stay.