Memphis Grizzlies: What Is the Future of Ed Davis?

Andy HuSenior Writer IIFebruary 14, 2013

Feb 1, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA;  Memphis Grizzlies power forward Ed Davis (32) shoots a free throw during the game against the Washington Wizards at the FedEx Forum.  Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Washington Wizards 85-76.  Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden�USA TODAY Sports
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies orchestrated the only two trades so far this season—one of them was to avoid the luxury tax and the other one shipped away Rudy Gay. They received a bunch of decent pieces in return, such as Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye, but the biggest acquisition for the Grizzlies was Ed Davis.

The young power forward prospect averaged 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game with an excellent 18.2 PER for the Toronto Raptors this season before being dealt (per Basketball Reference). At just 23 years of age, Davis has already made a name for himself as an energetic, athletic big man who gets by with hard work and hustle. 

Prince may have been the most important player who the Grizzlies received, but he's just a temporary fix at the small forward position, not a long-term solution. Davis obviously doesn't play the same position, but he might be the future power forward of the Grizzlies if he's given the opportunity and continues to improve.

Right now, even Daye registers more minutes per game (13.3) than Davis (8.0).

Daye is also a 6'11" power forward, but he's a much more potent shooter than Davis and is probably more valuable to a Grizzlies team that lacks perimeter threats. Daye can't really do anything else, though, so he would probably remain a bench player for awhile.

Davis, on the other hand, is an exceptional athlete who plays solid defense, provides toughness in the paint and crashes the boards like a power forward should.

Zach Randolph will turn 32 by the end of this season, and his contract will expire by the end of next season. Will Davis be given a chance to shine and ultimately take over the starting power forward role for this team? 

Coincidentally enough, Davis' rookie contract extension also ends in 2014 if he chooses to accept the qualifying offer next season. By that time, the Grizzlies should have an idea of whether to put their money into Davis or let him walk. He's going to be a restricted free agent, so the Grizzlies have the power to keep him.

Davis was the biggest return for the Grizzlies in the Gay trade, so it's difficult to see the Grizzlies letting him go by the end of next season. However, if he doesn't show major improvement and is still given limited opportunity, he might not receive an offer from the Grizzlies and just move on to another team.

Currently, Davis is nothing more than a high-energy, athletic rebounder with very limited range. He lives off of putbacks, layups and short hooks in the lane. If his game doesn't expand quickly enough, the Grizzlies might just give up on him.

With that being said, the Grizzlies will probably not re-sign Randolph after the end of next season if he demands another heavy contract, especially since they're so tight on their budget.

Out of the Grizzlies' current bunch of young power forwards, Davis is the only one with promise. Daye still hasn't proved much during his fourth season in the league, and Darrell Arthur is more of a tweener than a power forward. Both are terrible rebounders for their position as well. Jon Leuer is unproven at the NBA level and has spent more time in the D-League than anywhere else, so he probably won't be the answer either.

Even so, Davis is still garnering fewer minutes than either Daye or Arthur. He has the highest ceiling out of anyone else on the team, but he hasn't seen much playing time because his skills are redundantly similar to Randolph's right now.

Would Davis ever be given the opportunity to step into the spotlight with the Grizzlies? Or is he destined to be just an energy player off the bench, playing under the shadow of Randolph?