Long before June arrived, Terence Davis was a favorite of die-hard NBA Draft observers. As a college veteran, he often flew under the radar but, simply put, Davis was quite productive and displayed the flashes of athleticism that would make him a tantalizing NBA prospect. However, Davis ultimately went undrafted in 2019 and, while at least part of that was by design (because late second-round draft slots aren’t exactly favorable to the player), the former Ole Miss wing was forced to “prove it” over the summer in order to earn a full NBA contract.
Davis did just that and, after signing with the Toronto Raptors, the 22-year-old is making his advocates appear smart. Though the sample is small, Davis looks the part of an immediate rotation player, operating in a key role for a playoff-bound team in Toronto. In fact, the 6’4 shooting guard sits in a tie for the rookie lead in win shares (with Brandon Clarke) and, statistically, Davis has been a revelation.
Some of that is propped up by an unsustainable 64.7 percent true shooting, but Davis is averaging 10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his last 11 contests. Perhaps even more impressively, Davis is playing 21.1 minutes per game during that run and, even if Toronto’s injury issues play a part in that uptick, he has earned the additional playing time and is performing well for a team that looks the part of a top seed in the East.
Because Davis wasn’t drafted and because he isn’t in a high-usage role to put up massive counting stats, he probably won’t factor seriously into the Rookie of the Year race. However, it wouldn’t be tough to argue that Davis has done as much to facilitate winning as any first-year player in the NBA this season and, simply put, it is time to pay attention to what is a tremendous story.
Where does Davis land in this week’s rookie watch? Let’s examine the space.
- Ky Bowman – Bowman wasn’t supposed to play any kind of role for the Warriors this season. Instead, he’s playing a sizable one and doing a good job with it.
- Jarrett Culver – Don’t look now, but Culver has scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games. The efficiency is still hideous for the full season but the two-way wing is showing signs of life in Minnesota.
- Darius Garland – The former Vanderbilt standout enjoyed arguably the best game of his career in his last outing. Garland scored 21 points (on quality efficiency) in a loss to the Bucks and, since a rocky start, his overall shooting numbers have rebounded nicely.
- De’Andre Hunter – We touched on Hunter last week in this space, and he’s checking a lot of boxes in Atlanta. The No. 4 pick struggled mightily against James Harden on Saturday, though, and it was a “welcome to the NBA” moment for him.
10) Coby White
There aren’t great options to fill this spot, so White makes the cut despite shooting 8 of 33 in his last three games. It’s going to be a season of highs and lows for the former North Carolina point guard, and that was expected before the campaign even began.
9) Rui Hachimura
Hachimura has come as advertised in many ways, from the questionable defense to the lack of a three-point weapon. Still, he put up a 30-point, nine-rebound explosion against the Clippers on Sunday. There is talent here, even if most people haven’t been paying close attention to the Wizards.
8) R.J. Barrett
Barrett will pretty clearly finish higher than this in the actual ROY pecking order, and I acknowledge that. After all, he ranks in the top five among rookies in both scoring and rebounding. He still has a 47 percent true shooting right now and, given his usage, that is pretty damaging in an overall sense.
7) P.J. Washington
This feels too low for Washington and it probably is. He has a 59 (!) percent true shooting in the early going, and there have been nights (including a 26-point showing against Detroit this week) in which he has been borderline dominant. Washington is suffering from the Hornets being anonymous, but he’s been everything he could be asked to be.
6) Tyler Herro
Herro might’ve been higher than this if not for a stinker in his last game. The sharp-shooter is still knocking down more than 40 percent of his threes but, perhaps more impressively, Herro is shooting 49 percent from the floor. You wouldn’t necessarily think that from the way he’s often discussed.
5) Terence Davis
As noted above, Davis has just been tremendous. Toronto has a +15.0 net rating when he plays (in 302 minutes) and that leads the team. Obviously, there is some noise in that stat with this kind of sample size, but the Raptors have been nearly 10 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court. Shout-out to Terence Davis.
4) Kendrick Nunn
Nunn is in a bit of a rough patch with his shooting and that will happen to a young player. He’s still third in scoring, third in assists and third in win shares among rookies, and that’s good enough to land him here.
3) Brandon Clarke
Clarke was forced to leave the Grizzlies’ last game with a hip issue and he struggled before exiting. In an overall sense, though, he’s been lights-out. Clarke is shooting 66 percent on two-pointers this season and doing all of the little things that he is expected to do.
2) Eric Paschall
The Warriors are heavily reliant on a second-round rookie. That’s a real thing that is happening. Granted, Paschall was evaluated as a first-round talent by many (including myself) but he’s averaging 18.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in the last ten outings. This wasn’t the plan, but he’s been very good.
1) Ja Morant
Morant could lose his grip on the top spot for a while because of a back ailment that kept him off the floor on Sunday. He might miss a few games but, for now, the statistical profile (18.6 points, 6.4 assists, solid efficiency) speaks for itself as the top rookie in this class.