After a much-needed two-day break from draft talk, Franchise returns with a look at the 13th overall pick from last Thursday, Mr. Ed Davis.
I've started writing this piece about 10 times in the past hour or so.
Ideally, I would have launched right into a closer look at Toronto's newest Raptors, however the chaos that overwhelmed the city the past two days has admittedly pushed sports talk to the back for a minute.
We've never used RaptorsHQ as any sort of a vehicle for political views etc, and I'm not about to start now, but I hope our Federal and Provincial government politicians take a good luck in the mirror thanks to the mess they made this weekend. This was a disgrace regardless if you're for G20, against, or don't care either way. You knew this type of violence and destruction was not only possible, but fairly certain to occur, so why in hell they decided it was a good idea to hold the summit in downtown Toronto of all places, is beyond me. I mean, was Isiah Thomas running the show folks? Mayor David Miller and the Municipal government were against this plan from day one and if there's ever a time to say "I told you so," it's now, to the extent that I hope Miller seeks reparations from the province and beyond.
There was simply no need of this and while there was a ton of analysis ready to be conducted regarding Toronto's recent draft acquisitions, you'll excuse if me if I just didn't have the stomach for it. The LeBron-a-thon, the draft, and everything else just sort of melted into the background.
However snapping me back into Raptor-reality after this two-day diversion thankfully were the readers.
In fact, I found it quite amusing that numerous readers hit me up via email or on Twitter, asking how, as as a Duke fan, I was going to cheer for a North Carolina guy in Ed Davis.
Seriously though, the questions made me realize that even though I had seen Davis play a handful of times against my Blue Devils, I really didn't know that much about his game. The basics, of course, but I wanted to take some time to really look into his game from various perspectives.
A quick search online and shows just how varied the opinions on Davis are for instance. is he the next PJ Brown or Alan Henderson? Al Horford or a shorter Tyson Chandler?
In any event, the same types of reads keep coming back to you; great upside, quite raw, and hardly a sure thing.
In fact, it's interesting to note that while Duke players get repped as being "bad NBA prospects" despite being good college players, Marvin Williams, Tyler Hansbrough, Sean May and Rashad McCants haven't exactly been tearing up the league since they were drafted either.
So does that mean Ed Davis is next up on the "bust express?"
Nope, not at all.
However in the following discussion you'll see that this pick could easily go either way. Let's start with the good.
For one, Davis has some of the best physical attributes in this year's draft. He's essentially 6-10 (a shade under), 230 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan and a 9-foot standing reach. He had a 36 inch max vertical at the recent combine, and the fourth best max vertical reach behind only Derrick Favors, Stanley Robinson and Hassan Whiteside.
Put it this way, the kid's gonna block some shots.
Backing this up is the fact that Davis was the fourth best shot-blocker amongst power forwards in this year's class (blocks per 40 minutes) and one of the better overall rebounders pulling down nearly 13 per 40 minutes.
Right there we see some of the potential therefore as at worst, Davis hopefully projects to be an immediate boost on the glass.
So is he simply another Amir Johnson however?
Looking at the two's stats side by side (Davis' last year at UNC vs. Johnson's rookie season) there are some very similar features:
These metrics are all per 40 minutes as it was the only basis I could do comparisons on. You may remember that Amir went straight from high school and therefore I felt his rookie season where he split time between the D League and Pistons, was the best compare.
While Amir played slightly more minutes and therefore was slightly more productive offensively, Davis got to the line more, was equally formidable on the glass (interesting that they have the EXACT same totals) and was a much more dominant shot blocker.
Again, it's the rebounding and shot-blocking that are of greatest interest however Davis' extremely low foul-rate per 40 minutes is also huge. Typically, this is the area where rookie big men have the most trouble adjusting (Johnson still struggles in this regard) so if Davis can come into games and not worry about sitting back down immediately this is huge. Furthermore, since he's not a very efficient offensive player at this stage, he needs to stay out of foul trouble to have an impact at the defensive end.
He's obviously not a great shooter (his true shooting percentage was ok despite a bad FT% simply because he didn't take many outside shots last year) but his ability to get to the free-throw line is very promising. After all, Toronto's resident king of free-throws, Chris Bosh, only got to the line 7.2 times per 40 minutes coming out of Georgia Tech.
The upside is definitely there then.
We're talking about an extremely active, long, shot-blocking big man, who gets to the line quite frequently and who does a great job finishing around the rim (he finished 78% of cuts to the basket last season.)
However next season, to expect anything outside of what we've just discussed seems like a bit of a stretch.
He's got virtually no face-up game, attempted the fewest jump-shots of any of the power forwards in the current draft class shooting only 29% in spot-up opportunities, and is extremely hesitant to go right offensively considering he's left-handed.
Davis is also not the dominant rebounder one might expect and his 9.6 rebounds per game, while good, pale in comparison to say someone like DeJuan Blair (18 per 40) or even Hasheem Thabeet (13.6 per 40) from last year's class.
In addition, for all his physical tools, he didn't test out that well agility-wise and his wingspan was almost the same as players like Xavier Henry, a good 3, 4 inches shorter than him.
This brings up the concern many have with Davis; like Tyrus Thomas, is he somewhat caught between positions?
To me he seems much more of a 4 than Thomas ever did at LSU, but it's a legitimate concern. To be an effective 4 at this level he needs to get bigger and stronger, and of course needs to round out his offensive game.
The lack of excelling in any one single area, perhaps aside from shot-blocking, coupled with his offensive woes, probably then explains why John Hollinger's "Draft Rater" was so "down" on Davis.
That being said, when David Berri looked at this year's prospects using his "wins produced" metric, Ed Davis ranked as the fifth best prospect behind names like DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall.
Not too shabby.
So my final verdict?
I think Raptors' fans should be excited about Mr. Davis, regardless of his University affiliation. He's a project no doubt, but I'd argue much less of one than Demar DeRozan was in many ways, and a player who could easily find himself playing a key role for this Raptors' team next season.
Is that such a good thing for fans or for Davis?
...however if Chris Bosh isn't around, he might not have any choice.