So, the Grizzlies are doing pretty well lately. They’ve won six in a row, and the Rudy Gay trade has not caused their downfall like so many pundits assumed it would. That’s all well and good, unfortunately, there’s just one problem in Grizzlyland these days; the gross lack of playing time for Ed Davis.
This not the first time I’ve brought this up, but it’s really starting to become a bother. Davis emerged as a very talented young forward during his time with the Raptors this season. He had cracked the starting lineup, and was putting up a PER of 18.2. Any thought that Davis wasn’t worth a lottery pick had been thoroughly extinguished.
Then, he went to Grizzlies, and he’s been criminally underused ever since. He’s currently averaging 10.9 minutes per game. Those are minutes you give to a borderline rotation player, not someone who could start for the majority of teams in the league. The only time he received more then 15 minutes of time this season was in Tuesday’s route of the Pistons, and most of his minutes in that game came well after the outcome had already been decided.
Last night, Davis shot 4-4 from the field, and put in 10 points in just 14 minutes (Note: in my recap, I claimed he played four minutes. I was basing that on ESPN’s box score. My bad). Imagine what he could have done if he’d been given a little more time. Austin Daye has already seen his minutes decrease lately, so there’s no reason coach Hollins can’t give that extra time to Davis.
Having a player of his caliber in your frontcourt when you already have elite big men in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol is a great luxury, one that the Grizzlies are foolish for not taking advantage of. The presence of Davis means that Randolph and Gasol can now be spelled for longer periods of time, and save some energy for the upcoming playoff run.
Plus, Davis needs to be given time to thrive in this system. The short spurts of playing time he’s gotten have shown that he will be effective as a Grizzly. He put up four blocks against the Pistons, and he’s currently shooting .643 with Memphis. Even without a lot of lengthy game experience in Memphis, Davis has already demonstrated what he can give to an NBA team. Now, Hollins needs to capitalize on this and give him a larger role.
Sure, Davis is playing a little more than when he first arrived (and he rarely went over 10 minutes), but it’s still not enough. Davis is probably the best bench player the grizzlies have, and the playing time he gets needs to reflect that. So, if Coach Hollins reads this blog (hey, you never know!), this is my advice for him: start playing Ed Davis 20-25 minutes per game from now on. You aren’t going to keep winning against below average competition. The schedule is going to get a lot tougher, and you’re going to need a top-flight big man for the second unit. Darrell Arthur is solid, but Davis is the superior talent. The sooner he is given more minutes, and established as one of the key pieces of the second unit, the sooner the Grizzlies can reach their maximum potential and become fully loaded for their playoff run.