In the drama-filled aftermath of the Rudy Gay trade, something to keep an eye on is the development and usage of Ed Davis in Memphis. Should the ongoing discord between Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins and the front office continue, Davis may become collateral damage.
Davis is essentially replacing Marreese Speights, who had, along with Darrell Arthur, composed one of the more imposing frontcourts off the bench before being shipped to Cleveland. Davis is not nearly the shooter that Mo Speights is, but the former Tar Heel is young, long and full of potential, and may be whom we point to in a few years to signify which team won the Rudy Gay trade.
Since the trade was made primarily for salary cap reasons, acquiring Davis made a lot of sense — he’s still on his rookie contract and has showed promise in his three seasons in the Association. Though his numbers dipped a bit during his sophomore campaign, he has progressed nicely this season, having been given more minutes in Toronto. With Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas both struggling through injuries, Davis started 24 times for the Raptors, averaging 12.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 blocks on 55.7 percent shooting in those games.
From Davis’ shot charts, we can see that he both favors and performs best from the left side of the floor, which is unsurprising, considering he’s a lefty big. Davis is not an elite finisher at the rim at 62.7 percent, but it’s a respectable clip (plus-6.2 percent better than the league average), and the percentage of shots taken from that efficient spot is a good sign. Furthermore, the correspondence between his shot distribution and shot performance suggests that Davis plays within his game. While this may not seem unusual for a power forward, Davis is athletic enough that it wouldn’t be surprising if he too often attempted things outside his repertoire.
The film on Davis shows him to be long, athletic and agile whose go-to move is a quick little lefty hook. In the post, Davis generally doesn’t hold the ball too long, either going to the hook or finding cutters and shooters in proper time. Davis has also developed into a nice facilitator from the elbow, and is long enough to stride to the basket from there. However, in addition to struggling with his right and a slightly late release on his jumper, Davis has difficulty finishing through contact. When he is able to finish despite contact, Davis does it with his quickness and length, slithering by instead of powering through. Fortunately for Davis, strength, jumpshooting and off-hand proficiency are all things that players can improve with time.