Introducing Ed Davis, the Man Whom Memphis Grizzlies Need Without Marc Gasol
Davis, an athletic 23-year-old, brought some intrigue as a potential energy piece behind Memphis' twin towers, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
But now that Gasol is sidelined indefinitely after re-aggravating an abdominal tear on Mar. 22 (via Yahoo Sports), Davis is thrust into the kind of heavy rotation role that even his most optimistic supporters didn't envision seeing for a few seasons.
That's not to say he'll be overwhelmed by the new responsibility, though.
Before landing in a reserve role in Memphis, he appeared to be on the brink of tapping into that vast, but very raw potential that made him the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft despite playing less than two full seasons at the collegiate level—a broken wrist in Feb. 2010 brought his college career to an abrupt end.
Davis' career numbers before this season were about what you'd expect out of a project pick. His rookie campaign brought more production than his sophomore season but still featured just 7.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes per game.
When incumbent Toronto starter Andrea Bargnani was forced to the trainers' table by an elbow injury that cost him nearly two full months, Davis finally had a real chance at success. He was thrust into Toronto's starting lineup on Dec. 12 and immediately responded with a masterful performance: 24 points (which matched his career high), 12 rebounds and three steals in nearly 45 minutes of work.
He averaged 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds for the month of December (via NBA.com), then upped the ante with 13.9 points and 8.1 rebounds in January.
Now that there's a similar vacancy created by Gasol's injury, should Grizzlies fans expect similar results from the third-year pro?
It probably depends on how much playing time Davis receives from Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. Davis hasn't seen the dramatic rise in minutes just yet (42 total in the two games Gasol has missed), but his efficient production (20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in his last two outings) may be forcing the issue.
He's a nice complement to Randolph. Z-Bo blends his basketball knowledge well with his energetic work on the glass (11.6 rebounds per game), but has nothing even remotely resembling Davis' athleticism. In fact, Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien quipped that Davis is the only player on Memphis' roster that "plays above the rim," (according to Kyle Veazey of the Memphis Commercial Appeal).
Despite their differences in natural gifts, though, there is a lot that Davis can learn from his new frontcourt mate. His post game is still a work in progress. He's shown flashes of a fluidity, soft touch on his hook shots and a face-up jump shot.
But he still gets the majority of his points right at the basket. He's shooting 69.0 percent in the restricted area but just 41.6 percent outside of it (via NBA.com).
He has the physical gifts that Randolph can only dream about. With a little bit of confidence from Hollins and some tutoring from Randolph and Gasol, Davis could have all of the ingredients to become the most talented player traded in this season's default blockbuster deal.
Not a bad option in an apparent salary dump, I'd say.
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