Toronto Raptors: Has Terence Davis hit the dreaded “rookie wall”?

Terence Davis (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Terence Davis (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

After a strong start to the season, Terence Davis’ play has dropped as of late for the Toronto Raptors. Has he hit the dreaded “rookie wall”?

It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to suggest that Terence Davis has been one of the stories of the season; not just for the Toronto Raptors but in the whole of the NBA. The former Ole Miss prospect and undrafted guard has adjusted to life in the NBA in a fairly comfortable manner.

The Raptors signed Davis to a two-year non-guaranteed deal back in July after they caught wind of him showing up and showing out with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA’s Summer League. His season, to date, has been exceptional. Though he isn’t a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, his performances on a winning team could well see him end up on an NBA All-NBA Rookie team at the end of the season.

Up until now – with the NBA indefinitely suspended due to an outbreak of Coronavirus – Davis has averaged 7.7 points, 3.4  rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game, shooting 46-percent from the field and 40-percent from three across 64 games this year. However, on the Raptors’ recent five-game road trip out West, Davis played well beyond what has been the norm for him in his rookie season.

Davis featured in every game, averaging 3.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game, shooting 33-percent from the field and 18-percent from three and was a combined -33 on the court. His minutes were drastically cut too. On average, Davis is playing around 17 minutes a night for the Raptors this year, but in the last five games, he saw his minutes dwindle to 10.4 minutes per game, playing under seven minutes in three of the team’s contests.

As we’ve seen this season, Nick Nurse has often kept Terence Davis on a short leash, and now – with the playoffs looming (potentially), is there a chance that Davis has reached the dreaded rookie wall?

The rookie wall is probably more of a figure of speech than anything else, but the ramifications of playing such a long and arduous season are often felt by rookies more than most athletes in the league. They’re used to playing a much shorter and less jam-packed schedule than in the NBA, with the schedule featuring twice as many games as it does in college.

It’s not uncommon for rookies to feel fatigued at this point in the season and that could well be the case for Davis.

For a long stretch of the season, Davis led all rookies in PIPM. His recent dip in form and the introduction of Zion Williamson to the league has changed that, and Davis is now third with a +0.39 PIPM.

Davis has played a big part for the Raptors this season and already has one 30-plus point game in his career already, in a win against the Chicago Bulls back in February. That night was Davis at his best. When that’s the case, he doesn’t look like a rookie.

His shooting stroke is smooth and his decision-making is so sound, evident with his TOV% of just 13.6-percent. Davis will improve as a ball-handler and a passer, but even now he’s good for a rookie.

For a rookie, he’s an exceptional three-point shooter too and doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. His game continues to blossom before our very eyes, even if this recent run of form is a little concerning.

With the NBA currently suspended, however, the concerns that Davis could be tired and fatigued will probably subside –  especially considering there are more pressing matters afoot.

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It’s clear that Davis has hit a wall. But, if there’s a rookie that can work his way past it, it’s this one.