Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Frankel’s 2013-14 projections
The good news for Glen Davis is that he’s being smart and not rushing back from his foot injury, especially after suffering a setback in rehab — he underwent surgery to replace a screw in his left foot during the offseason. The bad news is that by the time it heals, he may have to prove his worth, especially if we see huge strides from Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson.
However, it should be expected that Davis will heal, recover, and step back into a fairly heavy usage role in the Magic’s starting lineup. The early stages of the season — with no Davis — will be an outlier as far as true expectations. In the long run, though, Big Baby will probably get his.
Since arriving in Orlando two seasons ago, Glen Davis has seen his role increase in a multitude of ways. Last season, Davis averaged career-highs across the board. He was scoring more, rebounding more, and assisting more. Similarly, his 15.0 PER was a career-best.
But offensively, Davis was a black hole. His 25.4 percent usage rate was a career-high, yet he posted an abysmal .483 True Shooting percentage. Big Baby’s continued infatuation with long two’s was the problem, as he shot 33 percent from 16-23 feet on 4.1 attempts per game, per Hoopdata.
And it’s a shame that Davis is a negative on offense, because he’s such a good defender and easily the best defensive player on the roster. Last season, Orlando was 6.1 points per possession better defensively when Davis was on the floor, per NBA.com. And regularized adjusted plus/minus, Synergy Sports, and 82games.com all graded him as a plus-defender.
It’s no secret that the Magic fell off a cliff after their 12-13 start, and that had almost everything to do with the defense cratering once Davis missed time with various ailments.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize a more limited role on offense would probably benefit both Davis and the Magic, and there are few viable options for Jacque Vaughn to turn to. You have Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson as previously mentioned, and even a Horace Grant acolyte — Jason Maxiell. That’s the long term outlook.
In the short term, Baby is destined to see relatively limited minutes until Jacque Vaughn is confident that his foot is at one hundred percent. Vaughn has plenty of guys he can platoon while he keeps an eye on Davis, and that should mean nothing but good things should come from the power forward position in the second half of the season if everyone’s healthy.
It might seem crazy to say it, but the Magic really cannot afford for Davis to have anymore setbacks with his foot at such a pivotal time in their rebuild, given that he has the potential to be an attractive trade piece at the deadline. Whether or not he fully recovers from his injury remains to be seen.