After a 24-58 season, the New Jersey Nets will have to make some changes heading into 2012. This week, Nets are Scorching takes a closer look at some soon-to-be-available names.
Stats: 78 G, 13 GS, 29.5 MIN, 11.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.4 BPG, 1.0 SPG, .448 FG%, .736 FT%, .133 3P%, 12.83 PER, 101 ORtg, 100 DRtg
Why Billy King Should Be Texting Him Right Now: Glen “Big Baby” Davis has been a key component of the Eastern Conference’s best team over the past four seasons. Primarily as a back-up PF and C, Davis has been a willing player in Doc Rivers’ defense-first system and has also demonstrated a decent mid-range offensive game, shooting 43.7 percent on 10-15 foot jumpers and a less impressive 35 percent on long two’s (16-23 feet). He’s also improving on offense, posting career highs in points per 40 minutes (15.9), free throw percentage (.736 – important because he’s good at drawing fouls), and turnover rate (7.8). While he won’t block shots, his wide body, strength and agility make him an above average post defender. And most importantly, a good coaching staff trusts him. The most frequently used Celtics rotation this past season featured Boston’s Big Four and Baby, with Kevin Garnett at PF and Davis at C, logging 515 minutes together, 113 points per 100 possessions offensive efficiency, a 96 points per 100 possession defensive efficiency, a +/- of +169 and a win percentage of 70 percent. While critics of Davis will say those numbers are due in large part to his superstar teammates, Davis has demonstrated over the course of many seasons that he is a trusted part of Boston’s championship-level rotation.
Don’t Risk the Fine: Pedigree is one thing, but Davis still makes questionable decisions on the offensive end, and parts of his defensive game are severely lacking. For such a wide-bodied player, it’s a little confusing that he takes so many jump shots (68 percent of all field goal attempts). And he’s not hitting enough of them (.372 effective field goal percentage) to justify the shot selection. Sure, he’s hit some huge shots over the years for Boston, but he’s not someone you want taking a 18-footer with the game on the line. Meanwhile, his rebounding rate of 11.4 is approaching Brook Lopez levels of being bad for a big man. Baby has demonstrated a knack for grabbing offensive rebounds, but I’d be worried pairing Davis and Lopez together at the same time if the team needed a board. And then of course there’s Davis’ conditioning, as he’s not exactly the most svelte individual in the NBA.
And the Winner Is … deciding … Tamper: I want to say “push” but I know that defeats the spirit of the series here. Cutting to the chase, I think Davis would be a great player off the bench for the Nets, backing up Lopez and Humphries in a three-man PF/C rotation. I think he’s better offensively and defensively than Humphries, better defensively than Lopez, and would be a nice compliment to those two on this roster. However, with all that being said, I realize it’s unrealistic that we’ll see Davis on the Nets in that kind of role. If he leaves Boston, a major-if in my eyes, he’s likely going to be seeking starter’s minutes and most importantly, starter’s money. He essentially is a starter on the Celtics. Why would he come to a team that won 24-games last year to play 20 minutes a game? But I do think people who criticize Davis as a player, are missing out. He’s a good glue guy, and he’s certainly way better than what the Nets currently have for backup PF/C depth and is likely the best sixth man available this summer. As for other frontcourt FA options, I think Davis would be a better bet than the more emotional – but frequently injured– choice, Kenyon Martin, and he brings more to the table than a defense-only guy like Jason Collins.