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The single biggest argument any chump on the street has that gives him the decisive edge in an “anti-LeBron James” argument is the fact that LBJ has no rings. Why, then, do we not use that same logic when talking about non-superstars who also have rings?
Maybe some do, but you don’t hear it often. If winning championships is the end-all rubric of your standing in the NBA, then what about the NBA champions who aren’t in the MVP discussion?
Does the “if you win championships, you’re better than the guys who don’t win championships” logic only work for top five players? Put differently, is Jason Terry better than James Harden? Or is just once you have passed a certain amount of years? Maybe we can only compare players who have been playing for more than five years?
My answer is no to each of those questions, but it’s tricky to know when to draw the line when we make the “but he’s a champion” argument. Glen Davis is an NBA champion. In fact, he’s the only NBA champion in the Magic locker room. It’s astounding to see people so taken aback by his playoff performance thus far considering his pedigree.
By now you know his team-leading playoff numbers. Davis is averaging a playoff career-high 18.7 points and 9 rebounds a game so far, a clip that outdoes his previous postseason career-best of 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in the 2008-2009 NBA season (the year after the Celtics won the championship). Though Davis is performing inefficiently on offense in the playoffs this season, with a True Shooting percentage of 46.5 percent with a usage rate at 28.2 percent so there’s that to take into account.
Obviously the injury to Dwight has put Glen in a position to play more and score more, but if players automatically “get theirs” the moment a big centerpiece hits the bench, then why aren’t we seeing the same production from the other Orlando bigs?
I would argue it’s because we’re talking about the difference between an NBA champion and a civilian player. If you’re going to use that argument against LeBron James, then you should give some consideration to the fact that Glen Davis’ effort and output for the Magic has been good, but it’s not unbelievable. This is what we should expect from a champion.
Don’t forget, Davis was not just a wallflower in that 2008 Celtics championship. He hit big shots, made big defensive plays, and was a perfect piece to that Boston puzzle.
Moreover, there is clear evidence that players, even if they are good pieces, don’t get the playing time and respect on a team simply because they don’t understand the system. Look at Ronny Turiaf in Miami. He has playoff experience and decent playoff numbers to go with that experience. One key reason he doesn’t get time in Miami, though, is his lack of comfort in the system.
So even considering Davis’ struggles early on this season, it should be understood that jumping into a new system takes time to adjust to.
The most telling sign that Davis is a champion is his willingness to adapt. In his last season with Boston, as noted earlier this year, Davis got most of his point from plays with his back to the basket. MySynergySports showed that a majority of Davis’ points were post-up plays (more than 20 percent).
This season, however, Davis is getting more than a quarter of his points in the pick-and-roll (26.3 percent). Look at Orlando’s Game 3 loss against Indiana. Davis scored many of his points in pick-and-rolls. Aside from a few free-throws, many of his buckets — when he wasn’t spotting up or isolating — came from either a pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop.
For Davis to come from a championship team to Orlando, spend an entire season being scrutinized for being “worse than Brandon Bass,” and then to limp in to the playoffs to play some of his best personal basketball ever is a terrific story. More than that, though, it helps strengthen the argument that NBA champions play like champions everywhere they go if you give them space to do so.
There aren’t many Glen Davis apologists in Orlando, but you’re reading one of them now.
After spending some time with Davis after a few games in January, I knew that this year would be rocky. He was having a tough time working his way in the system and, in the meantime, was not playing well and being lambasted by everyone around Magic camp.
Don’t call this a comeback. Davis just found the formula, played within Van Gundy’s program, filled in for Dwight, and is calmly boasting 18 and 9 despite the fact that few other Magic players came to play in Games 2 and 3.
So don’t be blown away by Davis. Don’t tweet about how you can’t believe his output. Don’t act like this is a third-string chump just brought up from the D-League. Glen Davis is a champion. He has a ring sitting at his house that he was a huge part of earning for his team. Now the proof is in the pudding, so hopefully it’s time to give Davis his due respect.