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Overblown: Weighing in on Davis

 

And no, I am not making a Baron Davis fat joke.

By now you have heard both sides.  On media day, Glen Davis publicly expressed some frustration about the lack of a defined role.  For obvious reasons, this did not resonate well with Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers.  For the record, let’s explore what was said:

Glen Davis:

“I don’t even know, I gotta find out what my role is,” said Davis. “With Rasheed [Wallace] last year, I had to become a center. Now? I don’t know. Do I become a [power forward]? Do I go back to playing the 4? We’ll see…


“It’s difficult because, as a player, you kind of don’t understand where [the organization is] going or what they are doing. No matter what I do — I can play great — it’s still not enough. I’m just here to help the team wherever possible, any way I can. Whenever I find my role, I’ll do it to the max, the only way I can….


“It bothers me, but at the same time, I’m a player,” Davis, who is in a contract year, admitted Monday. “Put me out on the court and I’ll do anything you want me to do. That’s the beauty of my position. Throw me out there and I’m going to play. I’m going to go out there and guard Shaq. Throw me out there and I’m gonna guard Rashard Lewis. Put me wherever you want to put me, I’m going to guard whoever you want me to guard. I’m just a basketball player…


“The role I would prefer to play is the role they want me to play.”
(Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston)

Doc Rivers:

“No, I’m not even worried about Glen Davis,” Rivers said Tuesday when asked if he had a conversation with the player. “I think he’s living up to [his Big Baby nickname]. I didn’t even hear it, someone just told me. I’m not that concerned…


“Let me put it like this: If Baby doesn’t know his role by now, he’s going to be sitting down a lot,” said Rivers. “I’ll just leave it that simple…

“No, I just move on,” said Rivers. “I’ve told him that before: His role has been the same for three years now. It’s the same. I think he likes us talking about him. That’s Glen…” (Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston).

Did you get all that?  Pretty interesting stuff.  However, any “controversy” involving Glen Davis and his mouth is really nothing new.  When Davis was in contract negotiations prior to last season an apparent impostor tweeted some displeasure with the lack of progress.  While Davis maintains his twitter account was hacked, I smelled on “Ashley Simpson on SNL” moment.  Whether or not Davis was lip-syncing these tweets he is still known for being emotional and outspoken.

Most of the time this is not a problem.  In fact, I would bet most coaches and GMs would prefer a player who cares deeply about his job and team over one who admitted on TeeVee that he did not try as hard as he could have (Yes, I am looking at you Vince Carter).

While Glen Davis and his mouth making the news is nothing new, it has not stopped fans and local radio commentary from absolutely killing him for these comments.  Most people, including Rivers I would imagine, are frustrated because Glen Davis is a bench player.  His role is do whatever the coach tells him to do.  However, in the words of the late Gary Coleman from his cameo on the classic Funzo Simpsons episode, “that’s a very glib interpretation”.

Glen Davis knows he is a bench player.  He has played “good soldier” for the past three years and done everything that was asked of him.  He feels he is ready to make the jump.  Just like anyone else in any other career, Glen Davis feels that he has been passed up for a promotion twice now- last year with the Rasheed Wallace signing and now this year with the acquisition of the brothers O’Neal.

Glen Davis, though, has a point.  He has not had a definitive role during his tenure with the Celtics and the Celtics have gone out and signed players that specifically play positions in Davis’ wheelhouse.  But is he justified in his claim that “No matter what I do — I can play great — it’s still not enough”?

The results are mixed.

Davis’ performance in the 2009 playoffs will always be fresh in everyone’s mind when contemplating this issue.  It was nearly stuff of legend.  But was it a sign that given the opportunity, Davis can be a productive starting power forward for an Eastern Conference Finals team?  Or was his production merely a product of catching lightning in a bottle?

To determine this in any quantitative way, I have decided to research the overall +/- ratings of the following five man unit: Rajon Rondo. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, and Kendrick Perkins.  Now, there are a lot of variables to consider working with five man units (namely, the other four players on the court) and at times, sample sizes can be small, but if Glen Davis thinks he can be productive given more time at the power forward position, these numbers should at least be trending positive.

Again, the benchmark for Glen Davis’ success at the power forward position has always been his performance in the 2009 playoffs.  There is no doubt that Glen Davis filled-in admirably for the injured Kevin Garnett.  Still, what remains to be seen is whether or not his efficiency was skewed by our expectations.  There was no way Glen Davis was going to be Kevin Garnett, but could he hold his own?

In the 2009 playoffs, the five man unit with Glen Davis plus the four other starters had a net +/- of 3.64 (276 minutes).  Compare that number to 10.12, which is the overall +/- of the starting lineup including Kevin Garnett for the 2008 playoffs.  It’s obvious that  Glen Davis is not Kevin Garnett but the Celtics still performed better than their opponents overall with either at the starting four.  So far, so good for Davis.

Investigating further, Rivers hardly ever used the Glen Davis plus starters unit during the 2009-2010 regular season.  This was due in part to the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace but even when Davis did play the power forward position with the rest of the starters, the numbers were not all that flattering (-37.67 in 47.17 minutes).

Similarly during the 2008-2009 regular season, the unit comprised of Glen Davis plus starters still did not perform better than their opponents overall (-5.34, 358.55 minutes).  The negative number may have gotten smaller with more minutes, but this relationship is not 100% directly proportional.  Remember,  Davis performed better in almost 200 fewer minutes in the 2009 playoffs.

The numbers seem to say that despite Davis stepping up when the team needed him most, he still does not have a leg to stand on when he complains about not having a defined role and alluding to the success he had playing the power forward in Kevin Garnett’s absence.  Or maybe Davis just needs to start in order to be effective.  This, of course, is not happening as long as Kevin Garnett’s wearing green.

The best thing Davis can do is keep “soldiering on” and prove to everyone what he believes in his own head to be true when he is provided opportunities.  Until he does that with some kind consistency, free agent acquisitions and opponent personnel will continue to define his role for him.

*Props to BasketValue.com for the numbers.

  • Sweeney

    Davis is a 6th man, period. A really good 6th man with talents that allow him to play down low and mid-range. Inevitably, some GM trying to prove their worth as a talent evaluator will OVERPAY him to jump ship.

    Didn’t he find out last year that there wasn’t a lot of FA money being thrown at him? I believe over time he will learn that this system, coach, and team are tailored made for him to succeed. It is just that the payday he is wanting will not come from the C’s, and he may be jeopardizing it further every time he opens his mouth.

  • http://celticshub steve

    i think his salery is just where it needs to be 3.5ish mill a year maybe he could get 5 this league over pays every year but with next years unknown hes not gunna get crazy money unless he constistantly plays out of his mind this year

  • dslack

    A Baron Davis fat joke? Mean a Glen Davis fat joke?

  • Brendan Jackson

    Either way, although Baron Davis is more topical:

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=17466

  • Ross in Maine

    Alright. I’ll admit it: I love Big Baby. I love everything about him, his heart, his drive, his attitude, his emotions and the trouble they cause. Baby isn’t Shrek, but more like Tigger, bouncing up and down the court. Ok, that being said, you can now take my next serious thoughts as somewhat jaded.

    Glen Davis, I believe in my basketball genes, is underrated. Danny knows this, and is working him for a cheap re-up. No, Davis is not starter material for this team now, nor likely on any contender team. But if he continues to improve and learn and mature and Danny has his way (cheap resign) then look for BBD to start at the power forward position in two years.

  • Ross in Maine

    or small forward if PP retires early

  • cmoney

    I think he’s overpaid. He played pretty well in the ’09 playoffs thanks to an above-expectation shooting clip. Even still, “stuff of legend” is pushing it wayyyy too far. He even had a better ’10 playoffs, again, thanks to an above-expectation shooting streak.

    The raw +/- evaluation is really dumb. You’re just CLEARLY trying to find #s that put him in a positive light. The Celtics starting 5 is one of the best 5 man units in the league. It’s no surprise that a unit consisting of 4 of those starters and bench guy trends positively.

    He’s just not that good. He’s a serviceable bench player, which is nice to have, but he’s nothing more than that. He’s undersized. Has some good instincts but lacks the athleticism to always capitalize on them. His offensive rebounding percentage (which is very good) is inflated due to the fact he gets blocked on a historically high percentage of his shots (something ~25%, just staggering) and he gathers a lot of those. His scoring efficiency (TS%) is absolutely atrocious for a big man. His jumper is poor, he doesn’t draw fouls, and a ton of his shots get blocked.

    Yet everyone in Celtics-land keeps thinking he’s a solid, positive player. I can’t count all the “Leon or Baby?” posts and discussions on message boards I’ve come across, even though it wasn’t close (Leon was much, much better and his lack of PT was one of my biggest gripes with Doc).

    So let’s stop dedicating so much print to the guy.

  • Brendan Jackson

    cmoney, did you even read the post?

    “… he still does not have a leg to stand on when he complains about not having a defined role and alluding to the success he had playing the power forward in Kevin Garnett’s absence.”

    “Now, there are a lot of variables to consider working with five man units (namely, the other four players on the court)”

    “…the numbers were not all that flattering.”

    The whole article was about how Glen Davis feels his performance in the 2009 playoffs was worthy of distinction in the form of playing time and role while the numbers don’t substantiate it.

    So tell me again how I CLEARLY attempted to find numbers that put Davis in a positive light when I found ones that show his performance in the 2009 playoffs was not a good projection of his actual production?

    Besides, Davis is a solid player and stats are for losers anyway.

  • I love Green

    Haters gonna hate Brendan.

  • Matt

    I love Big Baby too and believe he is wasting his time with the Celtics and Doc. He does need more time on the court to fully develop and as the NBA ‘career’ goes, there is a very small window of time to achieve all your career aspirations. So personally, I hope to see him move to a team during trading season where he can be the starter he is capable of. He is one of the more interesting players in the league and his personality is part of the reason he’s talked about so much. He’s a kick to watch.

  • I love Green

    http://www.twitvid.com/ASC0G

    Shaq and Perk getting into it in practice!

  • I love Green
  • Zain

    How interesting, the first video you posted was removed.

  • I love Green

    Oh my bad. Well it was actually Perk and Shaq dancing. Perk actually smiled!

  • Zain

    No I know, I saw a glimpse of it earlier and Perk could really move. I wonder if he’s MUCH further along than the team is saying..and that they don’t wanna share that info just yet.

  • I love Green

    Yeah when I saw the title of the video I was a little worried about it. But Perk was definitley moving pretty fine. I can see him coming back in January this year, but used very little for the first couple weeks.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @Sweeney +1. nothing more to say.

  • NickFaldo

    I don’t think people are hating on these bloggers. It’s just they’re obviously not that good. Their consistently messing up with spelling, grammar, and typos is annoying. Their over the top listen to me attitudes are not refreshing or coming up with anything new. When there are so many options to read about the Celtics, why should anyone care what they think? Grade for Celtics Hub: C-

  • cmoney

    Zach Lowe for Cs Hub: A+
    Brendan Jackson: C+

    Glen Davis is not a good player. I very much hope he “moves on” from Doc and the Cs so he can get his minutes, putting up decent bulk #s with awful efficiency on a bottom feeding Detroit team or something.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @NickFaldo Chill out man. These guys are doing it for the love of the game, for little to no cash. I actually prefer blog coverage of the NBA over most mainstream media….more passion, more depth & focus into particular topics, and more freedom to say what they really think because their’s no hidden agendas and gag orders from the corporation. I wish more bloggers could/would make a solid paycheck independently instead of jumping to the big boys.

    @cmoney: judge not, and ye shall not be judged :) agree with your view on baby, would be surprised to see him in green after this year, and not losing sleep over it

  • I love Green

    Haters still hatin I see.

  • Chris O.

    I ain’t hatin but TeeVee is spelled wrong lol

  • http://us11tv91station.tripod.com/alltvstations46/ Halloween Everyone

    Yeah when I saw the title of the video I was a little worried about it. But Perk was definitley moving pretty fine. I can see him coming back in January this year, but used very little for the first couple weeks.

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