Quick! Break down Glen Davis’s offensive game for me. Should be fun, right?
You probably thought of two things right off the bat:
Maybe you like how Baby always muscles his way into good positions. Or the way he steps into every shot with Ray Allen-type confidence. You might even be visualizing that game-winner in Orlando during last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Well, here’s my bone to pick with Baby. I think he takes waaaaaay too many jump shots. Yes, the Celtics are 21-4 and everything is great and Davis obviously isn’t hurting the team in any visible way right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Hear me out:
I guess I should preface this post by saying I am not the biggest Glen Davis guy. When the Celtics drafted him, I never thought for one second that he would end up making an NBA rotation. Too undersized. Too slow. Wingspan wasn’t great. Re-jumpability needed work (clearly Jay Bilas had an impact on my youth).
But after Davis exceeded expectations during his first two seasons with the Celtics, I was more than happy to admit I was wrong. It was pretty obvious that Davis had a special talent for finishing around the rim, and that’s a skill you can’t really teach. Now in his 4th season, Davis’s interior game has really come together and it’s a huge reason why the Celtics are riding a 12-game winning streak despite all their injuries.
The Big Four would never admit this, but I wonder if they secretly prefer having Davis out on the court instead of Kendrick Perkins during key offensive possessions. Just gives everyone a reliable fifth scoring option.
However, the operative word there is “fifth.” Not the second or third option. Not fourth. But fifth. Meaning you don’t take 18-foot jumpers when you’re playing with four future Hall of Famers. And even when you’re not playing with the starters, keep in mind that the team as a whole is leading the NBA in eFG% at over 54%.
The real problem I have, though, isn’t the number of shots that Davis takes. It’s the type of shots he takes. Davis takes about 10 shots per game, which is exactly what I want from him. (By comparison, Paul Pierce takes about 13, Kevin Garnett and Allen about 12). But look at this breakdown:
Shots at rim: 3 attempts per game, shooting 73%
Other shots: 7 attempts per game, shooting 40% (hoopdata.com)
I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I say this is borderline outrageous. These attempts should be completely reversed! As the numbers show, Davis is finishing at an incredible rate around the basket. And while that 40% shooting percentage from other spots is certainly good, don’t the Celtics already have players that fill that role? Players named Pierce and Allen and Garnett, just off the top of my head.
So why only three layup/dunk attempts per game?
Personally, I think Baby has always had a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove that he is more than a role player in the NBA. That he’s got game and isn’t just some scrappy guy who comes off the bench so he can bang around inside against other backups. Keep in mind, in the past he has talked about making an All-Star team at some point in his career.
And while I’m not going to try to pretend to understand the KG-Big Baby dynamic, I also think it’s quite possible that Davis sees how effective of a player Garnett has become as a mid-range shooter, and he wants to emulate that.
But Baby, do your team (and yourself) a favor. Ease up on the jump shots. There’s nothing wrong with being a great post-player. And that’s what the Celtics need from you. Especially right now.