Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE via Getty Images
For all the menacing things Glen Davis did while he was in Boston, he has not seemed to find his groove in Orlando yet.
I chose that word carefully: menacing. He was kind of a pest. Playing off Garnett and Perkins in the post during the Celtics’ prime, earning hustle points, banging on the boards, and kicking you while you’re down with that soft touch from about 15-18 feet.
But why was he so brutal? It was because as limited as he seemed, he had so many ways that he could beat you offensively. He had the pick-and-roll, the post-up, the spot-up, and ever-obnoxious offensive rebound.
That’s really what the Magic need out of Davis this year, but up until now they haven’t exactly seen it.
Let’s look at what we know about Davis. He’s a decent rebounder; good post defender, good scrap player, and can shoot the ball relatively well when he’s not out too far.
The problem right now for Davis is that he’s become an offensive threat in the past few seasons, but has failed to utilize it thus far in Orlando.
Synergy Sports Technology shows that roughly a quarter of his offensive production has come from the pick-and-pop. Well, he’s also rolled a few times (or aimlessly wandered to the paint, if you will). But by in large his weapon off the pick-and-roll is to pop and get a little fade jumper when the defense closes.
That percentage seemed low, so I took a look at his numbers from last year. To my surprise, Davis worked off the pick-and-roll for less than 17 percent of his offense in his final season in Boston. Over 20 percent of the time he was spotting up (no surprise there), but guess where another huge chunk of his offense came from? Posting up!
Davis has only posted up nine times this season according to Synergy, and has converted only one time when posting up. In his last season with the Celtics, he shot 43 percent from the field when he posted up, which was almost a quarter of the times he got the ball.
So it occurred to me, while I was semi-excited to see Davis become an asset to this Magic roster, it never crossed my mind that his post-up situations would probably get at least cut in half just because of the very nature of the Dwight/SVG offense. It’s not so much that Davis has become a worse player this year, it’s that he’s in an entirely different system where his tools are less accessible.
So that’s the big issue here. When is Glen Davis going to be able (or be allowed) to post up? I’m actually eager to find an answer to that question as the season develops.
All that said, Davis has looked strong on the weak side, and that is probably where he needs to live for the better half of this season. His pick-and-roll efficiency goes up when he’s the second screener, and his assists go up when he doesn’t screen and just floats on the weak side. Similarly, the only three offensive rebounds he has this year have been on weak side action on long misses from Jameer and Turk.
From my seat I see Davis’ role changing in a dramatic way on this team. He will have to somehow get comfortable in a role where he has to create more opportunities for himself on either the offensive glass or backside cuts. The pick-and-pop won’t always be there, and the post-up numbers will certainly diminish on account of his usage from that spot on the court.
This seems to be the problem with changing teams, especially if the bulk of your game comes from such a specific place. It has been easy to point out the bright spots in Davis’ play on the weak side thus far, and hopefully he can continue to exploit those areas of the court. If not, it could be a long and miserable season for Big Baby.
Nate Drexler is a contributing writer for Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.