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The Big Polarizer

 

After last night’s game, I received a text message from Brian Robb that read: That was pretty. Unfortunately, I did not know how to read it.  Was he referring to the first quarter where the Celtics found themselves on the wrong side of a nine point score differential?  Or was he referring to the third quarter domination in which Paul Pierce invited the Cavaliers to his block party?

The answer, of course is neither.  What kind of setup would it be if it were one of those options?  A quick look at the box score should tell you exactly what Brian was referring to:

Glen Davis had a monster game yet I had no idea until I looked at the box score.  Two years of Zach Lowe’s pessimism and the numerous Baby-haters on the Interwebs have made me weary of anything Glen Davis does.  Instead of seeing his 11 defensive rebounds, I noticed he was not hitting the offensive glass as hard as he should have been.  Instead of seeing the seven shots he made, I honed in on this dreadful long-two attempt:

With seven seconds left on the shot clock, Glen Davis completely bricks a wide open jumper. I should have noted that Davis put this up in rhythm and was probably the best chance for the Cs to get a bucket in this particular possession. Instead, I remember screaming at my TeeVee.  Despite Davis finishing the night with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, I chose to remember that brick.

I also remembered this little offense to defense exchange that came in the tale end of the third quarter.   Glen Davis looked gassed on these back-to-back mental lapses.  To be fair, Baby had just played nearly four straight minutes of basketball:

On the offensive end, it’s pretty clear that as Kevin Garnett catches the ball he is expecting Baby to be ready to crash the glass. Instead, Davis is assuming his position at the top of the key in case Garnett wants to play a little high-low. This is ultimately forgivable. If Shaq were in this situation, the impending drop-step dunk is obvious.

The very next play for the Cavaliers showcases some pretty inexcusable defense by Baby. Davis gets caught in no-mans land as he helps Ray Allen guard a driving Jamario Moon. Davis does not cut off baseline and he does not stay home and guard Anderson Varejao (you know, the guy that was killing the Cs on the glass all night). The only thing he is doing is protecting against the off chance Moon spins middle- which has zero chance of happening. A bad break for Davis most-likely due in part to both Ray Allen’s late recovery and the Cs getting caught out of position in transition.

With these plays and the first quarter in my head, I really did not know what was  so “pretty”. Then I went back to the tape. You want to see pretty? This is pretty:

Here is a great spin move on the low block by Glen Davis. Three things immediately stand out: 1) Davis finishes on an up and under (albeit pretty ugly); 2) Davis spins on Antawn Jamison, not a slouch by any means; 3) Davis is not shooting a long-two.

It gets better in the final minute of the game where Davis abuses Jawad Williams:

Okay so it’s Jawad Williams. It also happens to be the final minute of a blowout game. Still, the fact that a man the size of Big Baby can move like that is worth noting. This second spin move shows that he can be isolated on the low block and not have to shoot a turn-around fade-away jumper. Davis has also shown to be a fairly adept passer in the lane. Two go-to moves and a willingness to pass? This could be the start of something really cool. Or he could go back to doing the easy stuff– by that I mean jacking long-twos (see slower replay of the spin move here).

Despite the aforementioned plays of Baby-boneheadedness, Davis was on the positive end of the game’s loudest defensive play. See here:

If you don’t believe what you just saw and you want to watch a slower replay, click here.

Okay, now that you have seen that this is actually Glen “Big Baby” Davis blocking Ramon Sessions feel free to offer your suggestions on how this was possible. The NBA: Where Glen Davis can be a shot blocker.

All of these plays, good and bad, were contained in just one game. Last night, I saw the Glen Davis who gets caught napping and bricks long twos and Brian saw the dude that was a +19 (I’m sure Hayes saw that too). So all of this begs the question: Is Glen Davis the most polarizing player on the Celtics?

I would say “absolutely.” Davis is loved for being a goofball and being effective when executing the game plan. He is also hated for making poor decisions on the court, taking long twos, and breaking his thumb on his friend’s face.

It has also been noted in plenty of media that Davis is a statistical abyss.  To no one’s surprise, I am A) a Glen Davis fan, and B) I hate stats. Still, I recognize the value in both.

Now Celtics fans are left to wonder, “which Big Baby are we getting tonight, the guy who jacks long-twos or the guy that uses spin-moves?” With my spoken word written down, I’ll leave it to you all to answer my rhetorical question.

  • micskeeds

    What's wrong with the long 2's? It's a leaf out of KG's book and I'm sure he bullied Baby into learning how to shoot them. He's been hot and cold, but his form is right, makes a bunch of them, and now is the time for him to build confidence and perfect this, when he's still the 6th or 7th scoring option for a good team.

    As you said, he's a puzzle, but it looks like after years of stupidity, he's actually learning!!! The baseline J', the charges taken, the quick first step, the defense, the awareness, Baby had little of those as recently as 1 year ago. And now he's learning post moves! I always liked the guy, but now he's actually an asset.

    • BrendanJackson

      I don't really have a problem with the long twos either. They are just apart of the Celtic offense and people should get over it. Still, he's not the stretch four he should/could be yet. He's shooting 36.0% on 5.5 attempts per 40 minutes. Pretty rough. Especially when you take into account that league average is 42% on two attempts.

      • James

        That's exactly right. In Baby's second year when KG went down he had to fill in that spot that allows for much spacing and the ability to take and hit long 2's. Credit to Doc for realizing that Baby is too small to live in the paint in the first place, and for allowing him to develop that outside shot over time, even while Zach Lowe was wringing his hands every night complaining about it. Sometimes growth is a little painful, but Baby's game and the C's are clearly better off for it now.

        Baby is a perfect example of exactly the kind of player that spins the stat geeks' heads. You actually need to watch the game in full to see all his little contributions (and, granted, deficiencies), it doesn't just fall into place as good or bad in the box score.

        Nice little post here, B.

        • Jay P

          Maybe you have a point.

          But with post moves like that, he has no business shooting, ever. Unless he's on the floor with Shaq, at which point you don't have a stretch big man in the game, and it's understandable for him to drift outside to spread the floor a bit.

          While KG is out there though, Davis has no business outside of 15 ft, his post moves are too good to be living away from the rim.

          • BrendanJackson

            With KG on the floor, Davis has to be low post player for sure. But in the video above KG is on the low block so it's only natural for Davis to drift out to the high post. I think Davis will predominantly be on the low block when he and KG play together but there will be times when the reverse is also true. We just have to deal.

          • What More Can I Say?

            I 110% disagree. Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwan, & Kevin McHale all had post games that were a PROBLEM for the defense. They all also owned jumpers as well.

            Baby's Post game is very nice, and his jumper needs more work. But it will get the work and soon his game will be complete. He is getting there. You don't tell a NBA baller to stop shooting wide open jumpers, you make sure he is putting MORE jumpers up after the game, between the games, and before the games so the results IN the game keep the defense honest and keeps the floor well spaced.

            Keep in mind Jay P…Michael Jordan's jumper was broke at one time too. But his take it to the cup game was DEADLY and it wasn't an issue until teams begged him to shoot it. I know…BBD is getting compared to some LEGENDS in this post, but BBD himself should treat his game like he will one day be an all-star. If BBD looks at himself like an all-star…we are that much closer to Banner #18.

      • What More Can I Say?

        We are 17 games into the seson bro. It may not of been you, but one of the other writers had Baby shooting like 49% on his jumpers the first 8 games of the season. Now…he is missing more of them lately, but he's gonna get through that. The results are 4 wins in a row!!!!

        Think about it like this…how many jumpers has Kobe missed in the last 3 games?? They have lost 3 in a row, and he is putting up a ton of jumpers. Now we all know NO ONE is gonna tell Kobe to stop shotting because he is KOBE, but the painful truth is he probably is shooting a bunch of bad shots. But no one will say anything because it's Kobe Bryant.

        I think people just need something to b*tch about so BBD is the target. 4 WINS in a ROW!!!! 17 and 11, his 1st double double of the seson and the guy earns a highlight of a brick he throws up.
        Maybe it's just me. Or maybe people just need something/somebody to write about that isn't positive. Smells like horse sh*t to me though.

        • BrendanJackson

          If he was shooting 49% in the beginning of the season and 36% now, shouldn't that tell you all you need to know about how poorly Baby is shooting the ball lately?

          • What More Can I Say?

            Point taken. I hear you loud and clear. But do you really believe he should STOP taking wide open jumpers?

          • John S.

            Do you remember how bad a shooter Rajon Rondo was his rookie year?

            If, like Rondo, Davis improves his shooting every year his contributions in other areas will be all most basketball fans will think about when they hear his name.

        • JP-

          baby doesn;t have a nice post game yet, he gets blocked far too much, this is well documented.

          • David4400

            Last year, especially in the playoffs, yes. But this year? I don't see how you can say that.

  • zebulon

    Brendan-

    My favorite article by you, ever. This is awesome.

  • CG12

    It would be nice if he made more of them, but I continue to believe that Baby MUST shoot long twos when appropriate. Again, when appropriate. If he has a wide open 15-18 footer, he needs to shoot that whenever he gets it. If he fails to do so, the other team knows that they don't have to guard it, the defense contracts, and everybody, including Baby, has less space to work with.

    It isn't an either/or proposition – the jumpshots complement his improving post-up game to make both more effective.

    • What More Can I Say?

      Take a look at the spin move that he puts on Jawad Williams. He faces up in the triple threat position, fakes a jumper, and hits him with a spin move. And 1!

      Perfect proof to back up CG12's posts. The jumper is part of his assault. If it's wide open, he's got to take it and hit it. You don't STOP taking wide open jumpers, BBD just has to do whatever it takers to make sure they go DOWN.

  • Devin_in_Maine

    I've seen Baby trying that spin over the past few games and I keep finding myself shocked when it works. I guess that when a body that big moves that fast, it catches people by surprise – even seasoned defenders. Now I LOVE Baby taking the ball to the hoop, but I wonder if defenders will start seeing that move on film and being better prepared for it. I hope not…Anything that reinforces his short and in-the-paint game is fine by me!

  • sistaff

    I think labeling my record here on Baby as "two years of pessimism" is a bit unfair. I've written happily about Baby's willingness to adapt his game to what the team needs, and I've been raving about his play this season at SI.

    He's had problems, especially finishing at the rim, but overall I'd say I'm a fan.

    This is a great post, by the way. The Hub is humming along.

    Zach

    • BrendanJackson

      Haha, sorry Zach. I was just making a joke that you're a natural pessimist. Not about Baby specifically.

      • sistaff

        That is of course true–I am definitely a natural pessimist. But Baby gives me hope.

        • I_Love_Green

          Yessss Zach Lowe is back.

  • GranTur

    Big Baby's jumper has definitely given him some more space to make moves.

    He took advantage against CLE but he needs consistency with his dribble and low-post moves, as well as his jumper. It'll take time. He's a 6th man/role player guy who is young. He'll keep getting better. He's shown flashes.

  • Morpheus

    What would be nice to see Baby ADD to his deadly spin move is a fake – up and under. He has also developed a nice fadeaway jumper i would love to see more of.

    Baby's post game has really developed over the years i've seen him play.

    - Running hook shot. Sort of a sky hook….sort of

    - Baby hook. Just your normal 2 foot lift off jump hook in the paint

  • Morpheus

    - Turnaround fadeaway jumper. I think he should use this more as his big body and strength allows him to get space, to get the shot off with ease.

    - Face up game – Whether it be the pump fake,one hard dribble and spin or the jab – jab step jumper, just another dimension he's added to his post game.

    - Obviously the spin moves showcased in the videos here.

    - Then there's the long 2s, i don't have a problem with them i think he shoots them too flat,probably because he has a bit of lift when he takes them. I wonder if more of them would fall if he were to shoot them with his feet set. If he can develop it consistently……LOOK OUT.

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