On defense, Davis is active and engaged, using his length to disrupt plays at the rim. With his quickness, he also has the potential to be a force on pick-n-roll defense. His lack of bulk and strength does hurt him, though, on post defense and that is an immediately conspicuous disparity from the existing Memphis frontcourt culture: the Grizzlies are bullies on the block, and they make damn sure you know it.
Memphis is clearly in a state of transition right now, and that means there is an opportunity for culture change. The “grit and grind” mantra encapsulates the team attitude well, but it also reflects the stagnant nature of their offense. Hollins is old school, and defiantly so. As teams around the league shift to small ball lineups, spread pick-nroll offenses, and greater reliance on three-point shooting, the Grizzlies have continued to largely run a low-post and isolation dependent offense. Their hot start notwithstanding, the results have been less than impressive, as evidenced by their horrific shooting (Memphis is second to last in True Shooting Percentage at 50.6).
Davis can get stronger, and under the tutelage of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, develop facets of his game that fit better with the existing Memphis offense. As it stands, Davis is currently stuck behind Darrell Arthur in the rotation off the bench, and Hollins doesn’t seem to think Davis is capable of filling the five spot. This may turn out favorably for Memphis. Davis is still on his rookie contract (making $2.2 million this year, and $3.2 million next year), and if his minutes remain limited, might remain something of a hidden treasure when he hits the open market.
Were Davis to get minutes now, fellow southpaw Mike Conley would have an additional option to his passing strongside (along with Tayshaun Prince). Davis also spent two seasons with Jerryd Bayless in Toronto, so they may have something to build off of there. For the time being, Davis will probably be relegated to insurance should something happen to Darrell Arthur, although with rumblings of a trade involving Z-Bo already emerging, we might not have to wait that long to see how things go with Davis.
Davis is incredibly energetic on offense without the ball, proactively looking for screens to set. He’s become quite good at setting slip screens, and threatening on the roll. On high screens, Davis will often receive the ball from the handler, give it back, and immediately re-screen, which led to open looks from downtown for DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson (although Memphis doesn’t have the perimeter shooters that Toronto has). Couple that with his elbow facilitation, and you have a great contributor capable of injecting more movement and flow to an offense — but only if Hollins is willing.
Should Memphis play Ed Davis more?
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