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Player Preview: Terence Davis, the Raptors’ newest surprise

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From undrafted, to unsigned, to earning minutes on the defending champion Toronto Raptors. Is everyone ready to join Terence Davis Hive?

2019 NBA Japan Games: Houston Rockets v Toronto Raptors Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Media folks, Twitter folks, and all kinds of other NBA folks are always saying “don’t read too much into Summer League”, or “it’s only the preseason.” I, also a folks, believe or agree with them, for the most part, when they are saying those things — but not when it comes to Terence Davis. I was fortunate enough to be in Las Vegas this summer for the first ever Summer League in which the Toronto Raptors were defending NBA Champions and let me tell you, Davis can flat out ball.

The obvious and easiest player-connection to draw to Davis is to another diminutive guard employed by the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors (all right, that’s probably the last one for this article), Fred VanVleet. VanVleet has trumpeted his personal motto of “Bet On Yourself” vocally, sartorially, economically, and physically throughout his career. Davis followed the formula to a T when he put all 30 NBA teams on alert that he would not be signing a contract if he was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Davis ended up going undrafted, played one game for Denver during Summer League where he put up 22/5/3 on 62 percent shooting (including 71 percent from 3) and was immediately scooped up by the Raptors on a two-year minimum deal. I interviewed Summer League Head Coach and now Assistant Coach Jon Goodwillie and he couldn’t praise Davis enough, especially considering how little integration Davis had with the team.

With phase one of FVV’s “BOY” motto complete, Terence will now look to break into the Raptors rotation and make a mark for himself in the league.

Role On The Team

Well, this one is going to be a tough one to sort out for Nick Nurse. Kyle Lowry is firmly entrenched as the GOAT Raptor as well as starting the starting point guard and FVV is locked in as the backup PG and sometimes lead PG while Lowry plays off-ball. Where does that leave Mr. Davis?

While the Raptors could certainly find some room for him at the two-spot, the starting back-court would be severely undersized against most of the teams in the league and Davis doesn’t quite have the defensive chops to make up for his lack of size.

Drawing parallels yet again with Steady Freddy, VanVleet saw a grand total of 7.9 minutes in his rookie season and that number might not be completely far off where Davis lands by the end of the season. With that said, if he can manage to play anything like he did in his first go-round of NBA action in Japan, then coach Nurse is going to have a very hard time keeping him off the floor.

Needs Improvement

As mentioned in the previous section, Davis strongest suit isn’t his work on the defensive end of the floor. His aggressiveness is excellent in almost every facet of his game, but he just flat-out doesn’t yet have the experience needed to know how and when to exert it at the NBA level. While he might never be anywhere near a Patrick Beverley level defender, Davis shows similar levels of fire and energy and should absolutely be watching film on the Clipper point guard.

Defense aside, Davis looks as if he has an NBA level shot and that will do wonders for keeping him on the floor as an off-guard. Where he may struggle is in running the point against locked-in (see: not preseason) level defenses in the NBA. Terence made some excellent reads as the game in Japan progressed, but he routinely seemed to be a couple of steps ahead of himself in the pick-and-roll and in transition, where he looked a little on the erratic side. Perhaps those issues can be chalked up to first-game jitters, but being an NBA caliber point guard doesn’t happen overnight — gotta give the kid some time.

Expectation

On one hand, expectations should be set fairly low simply due to the logistics of the Raptors roster. On the other hand...

Maybe he’s going to be the best Raptor of all time? Hard to say.