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About a month ago, I wrote about the very strange evolution of Glen Davis’ short NBA career. He started out as a banger in his rookie year, evolved into a jump-shooter in 2009 and turned rather suddenly back into an interior banger this season. I argued that Davis deserved credit for these adaptations, since they showed his willingness to morph into whatever the team needed him to be. When the team’s only jump-shooting front court player (KG) went down with a season-ending injury, Davis developed a jump shot.

Davis missed the start of this season with a silly hand injury, and the Celtics, with Rasheed Wallace playing Leon Powe’s minutes (and more), turned into a poor offensive rebounding team that didn’t draw fouls with the same frequency it once did. Davis came back and tried to fill that void by crashing the offensive glass and attacking the rim.

This is a simplistic narrative, I realize. Davis was working on his jumper before KG got hurt last season, and his J may have been rusty when he returned this season because he couldn’t practice it for much of his rehab.

But still: The Celtics needed another interior presence, and Davis was providing it.

Except for one problem: He couldn’t make a shot at the rim.

As of a month ago, Davis was hitting just 49.5 percent of his shots at the rim, according to Hoopdata. The average mark for power forwards this season has been about 62.5 percent. At the end of February, Davis was (excluding three guys who had barely logged any minutes) the very worst at-the-rim finisher in the entire league among power forwards.

Celtics fans were howling that Davis was pathetic around the rim, that his gaudy offensive rebounding numbers were mostly the result of Davis rebounding his own misses. Those fans had a point.

But Big Baby appears to be making some progress.

In his last 10 games, Baby has hit 18 of 29 shot attempts at the rim—a 62 percent hit rate, according to Hoopdata’s box scores.

Davis hit just 1-of-5 shots at the rim Friday against Houston, and he rebounded three of those misses, leading teammates to jokingly call him Moses Malone. Take out that Rockets block-fest, and Baby is 17-of-24 (71 percent) at the rim over the three weeks or so.

The doubters may still have some anti-Baby ammo. Five of Boston’s last 10 games have come against teams in the bottom 10 in opponent field goal percentage at the rim, according to Hoopdata. But Baby hit just 7-of-16 shots (44 percent) at the rim in those five games (against Houston, New York, Washington, Memphis and the Pistons).

That means he hit a sizzling 11-of-13 in the other five games against teams that generally defend the rim well—Utah (3-of-3), Cleveland (2-of-3), Dallas (3-of-4), Indiana (3-of-3) and the Bucks (0-of-0).

This is not to say that Baby has turned a corner or that he is an elite finisher. He could toss up an 0-of-5 at the rim against Nene and Birdman tonight, and that 62 percent mark over his last 10 games is just average for a power forward.

But I’d sign up for average right now. It would be a career-best mark for Davis, and it would be a huge thing for the Celtics.

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Zach Lowe

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  • Perry

    Know your role. Play solid. Baby does both.

    My hope is his teammates match his furor. If there was an award for hustle points it would go to Davis.

    The key to his recent success is his commitment to getting on the boards at the both ends of the floor. He’ll never be able to finish loudly at the rim because he can barely lift. However, he moves like a ballerina, so he’s nimble enough to find daylight.

    While he does pile up rebounds off rejections, he does get to the line more frequently than anyone off the bench. So he’s staying with the play till it’s ultimate conclusion. That’s the kind of commitment this team has lacked since December.

  • Jay P

    Aside from his immaturity issues at the start of the year, I love Glen Davis. He’s instant energy of the bunch, and he’s a workhorse. He just doesn’t give up on a play, and he’s full steam ahead every minute he’s out there.

    If only we could instill some of that work ethic in Sheed… that mindset with the talent and skill set Sheed has would be scary good. Unfortunately despite his enormous abilities, a guy who could probably an all star if he gave a damn, his lazy attitude and play makes him an (at best) average bench player.

    My only gripe with Davis is something he just can’t control that entry, and makes stupid, stupid fouls. But I’m willing to live with a few bad fouls considering everything else he brings to the team.

  • Patrick

    The day that Glen Davis gets a rebound and passes the ball ball back out to reset the shot clock will be the day that Glen Davis will be a great player.

    Even if he gets a rebound, misses, gets another rebound, then passes out for a new shot clock. Or he has to shoot 85% from the stripe.

    I love his aggressiveness and willingness to sacrifice his body but someone PLEASE tell him he doesn’t have to shoot with 3 defenders on him.

  • GranTur

    Glen Davis ended last year with a developed role.

    This year his role has changed, so he has needed time to redevelop.

    I see that evolution which says to me that he is a good player.

  • Sam

    yeah he has adapted his role and readapted it for what this has needed from him at the time, between that and the energy he brings when he steps out on the court I got to give him props.

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  • I see him adapting to whatever role he’s needing in to make the team better. I see him as a team player and that’s what makes him such a great asset to the Celtics roster.

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