Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
It must really stink to be Glen Davis right now. Imagine being a guy who entered the league as a 21-year-old and almost immediately felt the unparalleled bliss of winning a championship, of being a champion. Now, four long and relatively miserable years later, you’re in Orlando and playing for nothing, it seems, as the Magic are in tank mode and have very little to be excited about.
First, let me go here: not every player is the same. Some play for money, some play for fame, some play to win. Of course, some players (and probably most) are a combination of all three of those things, but certainly certain players lean heavily in favor of one of those things over another.
Take James Harden, for example. Harden is a great player and probably likes to win. However, winning is not the most important thing to him by any stretch. Money (and by extension a bigger role) is more important to him and we saw that play out when he took his talents to the corporate epicenter of the United States.
On the other side of that coin are guys like LeBron James or Kevin Durant. These are guys who winning is pretty much everything to. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt their cause that their endorsement deals give them enough money for about 1,000 lives, but regardless, they chose “best situation” over “highest dollar amount.” So we can conclude that these guys value winning more than money.
Glen Davis probably doesn’t really have the opportunity to make a ton of money (relative to other players) in the league. Guys like that tend to lean more towards winning because they don’t have the temptation to make the ridiculous dollars like maybe 20 or so guys in the league will have over the course of their career. So I don’t really care how he got there, Glen Davis is a guy who values winning over anything else, even though becoming a starter was also very important to him as his career progressed in Boston (which is precisely why he was traded to Orlando).
And in 2008, when Davis came into the league, his rookie contract probably didn’t matter a whole lot to him because the guy put a ring on his finger in a short amount of time.
So who cares? Why does this matter now?
Well for one thing, it is awfully impressive for a guy to do some of the things he’s doing given the situation he’s in. The fact that the guy has lost a bunch of weight and is asserting himself as if he’s playing for a contender is at the very least notable. Glen Davis (I don’t think) would ever consider himself a star or the shining center of this Magic team, but he is. He’s developed into that and seemingly because of this resilient passion for winning.
Even before the season started, Davis was tweeting and Instagramming about winning rings again. And he wasn’t thinking about getting traded, then winning rings. He’s the type of guy who really thinks this Orlando Magic team can win a ring and it’s not going to be his fault if they don’t.
All I can say to that is wow. Sucks that you have to be in Orlando, dude. Sucks on multiple levels.
I’ve cited this story before. Last season after an early loss to the Bulls, Davis expressed a little subtle resentment toward the hand he’d been dealt in Orlando, but moreover a feeling of really missing his team in Boston. That was all predicated on the fact that they, at least in his opinion, were a team of self-sustaining winners and they all thought like winners.
This is a role that hasn’t left Glen. He’s a role player to be sure, but a role player who wants it bad enough to temporarily step into a bigger role. It started last postseason when Dwight hit the pine with back problems. Glen stepped up and it didn’t stop there. Now he’s here showing that he can fairly consistently be a 20-10 guy (albeit inefficiently) and a difference maker.
In other words, Mr. Davis has more than doubled up on his minutes per game since his championship run in 2008. It’s important to note that Davis logged 29 minutes per game in his last season in Boston. I’d like to look at how his numbers are different so far this season from his comparable situation in Boston in 2011.
Looking at the numbers
Right now, Davis is boasting a career-high 14.7 Player Efficiency Rating (which is inflated a bit because of his obscenely high usage rate) in the early stages of this regular season. The highest he’s been before this was, in fact, last season where he was at 13.2 and in 2011, in Boston, he had a 12.8 PER.
The scary part about the Davis situation is that his True Shooting percentage has plummeted in the last two seasons from 49.9 percent in 2011 to 41 percent this season. Of course, that is partially a product of the team he plays on, but it also means that he is overproducing for naught.
Orlando is getting max production out of this guy to a fault, abusing him really, exploiting his resilient attitude toward winning, and still losing games. Just look at his usage rate of 31.1 percent right now compared to his career average of just 20 percent. To give you an idea, that’s a higher usage rate than James Harden, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant. Carmelo Anthony is currently slightly higher than Davis at 35 percent.
So can we expect a burnout? A collision course of regression and overuse? The sad truth is probably yes, and that is why I started this whole thing out telling you guys how much it sucks to be Glen Davis right now. His output is huge, his team continues to lose, he’s getting exploited, and darn it he misses his championship friends up north (or at least misses that feeling that he felt so early in his career).
It really is a bummer for Glen Davis. He contributed to and tasted glory at an early stage in his year and has suffered the unfortunate fate of belonging to the Orlando Magic at a particularly terrible time.
It sucks to be Glen Davis right now.