Glen Davis is Fooling Someone

What is ahead for Glen Davis?

As one unnamed opposing NBAteam ‘scout’ told Celticsblog…"We’ll find out if there really is more to Glen Davis this season."

I wanted to call this article: Why I Like Glen Davis. But the more I thought about it, I realized the title I chose is more apt. As the quote implies, Davis has his doubters.

Anybody who reads me knows I have been a defender of Glen Davis since his rookie year.

But I have often felt that I was defending Glen to, and against the opinions of, what I felt were the basketball cool guys. You know who I mean. The guys that, in my opinion, were generally pretty wise about the game. I respected their opinion, and often saw things their way. Even when I didn’t agree, I understood their position.

But some players divide the world into 2 camps. Glen is one of them. There are those who love Glen Davis and those who don’t.

Even many fans who think Danny Ainge walks on water, believe Danny got it wrong on this one. Yet, the contingent of Glen Davis fans has been growing. As expected, there are reasons for both.

It is clear that Davis is fooling someone. And that leads to why I like Glen Davis.

It is really simple. He doesn’t fit the mold of the current NBA prototype. He doesn’t have arms that can wrap around you twice if he hugged you. He doesn’t have pogo sticks for legs. And oh yeah….that.

He carries more weight than most players in a league that seems to be made for…humans that look the exact opposite of Glen. Football player who took a wrong turn and ended up inside at the arena instead of out on the practice field hitting the tackling dummies. Son, you’re in the wrong sport. This is the basketball team.

And yet, (Never start a sentence with the word ‘and’. I must be a nonconformist – like Glen Davis) this guy can flat out play the game. And he plays with heart.

That is also why I have liked players like Sam Cassell, Jeff Hornacek, and still like Steve Nash, and Joakim Noah. They don’t look like basketball players. But they can really play. You don’t really want everybody in the NBA to look and play the exact same way, do you?

I can clearly see bigger potential for the player known as ‘Big Baby’ than what has thus far been exhibited. Many of those that I think know the game pretty well, don’t.

My off the board e-mail and PM conversations have been lively indeed. My peers can’t understand what I see in him. I can’t understand why they don’t see what I see.

I see a multi-talented player who has been asked to fill very specific roles that, year over year, have been as diverse as his skills. Davis has gone from a floor spacing mid range jump shooter two years ago to the team’s top energy guy and offensive rebounder last season. Both times it was by request of his head coach, Doc Rivers. After some trail and error, he responded at a high level both times.

In spite of having to stand underneath the hoop last season to rebound and getting blocked at a frustratingly high percentage, he can find clever ways to score around the hoop – especially if he can get the defense moving. Flat footed, his execution and timing has been awful at times. On the move, it is a different story.   

He has shown some success with a ‘step back fade away’, as well as a take it-to-the-hoop ‘baby’ jump hook shot. We know he can get a mid range jumper going. Earlier in his NBA career he flashed some creative passing skills.

Backing down players his size, the dude is flat out quick on his spin moves. Ask Lamar Odom.

He has hands quick enough to steal the ball from nimble point guards cruising by him. He’s skilled at taking offensive charges. His basic man and team defense have improved immensely. Okay, so he will never be a shot blocker and intimidator in the middle.

And the Big Baby thing. Those who read me have probably noticed that I don’t call him Big Baby and I haven’t done so in print long before he asked not to be called that. To me, it had the potential of getting in the way of what was really important, his focus and development as a player. It also had the effect of negating serious respect for his game. It’s hard to take someone nicknamed ‘Big Baby’ seriously.
 
Add to that, his now famous crying episode, his infamous fight with a friend that caused him a huge setback in development, and his more recent off season internet comedy video ventures and I can see how some would be distracted from what Glen does on the court.

The Sound of Groans

In fact, I was awoken very early one morning this summer. I heard groaning. It grew so loud it woke me out of my sleep. I sat up in bed. I realized that it was coming from my computer. I got up and turned it on to find out what the heck was happening. It was every Glen Davis ‘non-fan’ groaning their displeasure over his twitter Waldo and nerdy guitar playing pictures and his Ustream (of consciousness) videos.

After rolling my eyes and realizing that the chasm between ‘those who like Davis’ and ‘those who don’t’ just got San Andreas Fault Line wide, I gave up the idea of defending him. It would be futile. You either ‘get’ Glen Davis or you don’t. Sorry groaners, I thought it was pretty funny. Immature and crazy? Yes. But pretty funny stuff. And yes, I appreciate more sophisticated humor, too.

But that brings me to relate an off board conversation I had with one Davis critic. When I asked him why he was so hard on him, he said, ‘I guess because I see a bit of myself in him when I was less level headed.’  

I can relate to that. That is why I’m not so hard on him. I see a bit of my younger self in him, too. I have had my dumb, crazy, immature, even stupid moments when I was his age. My wife might say, "What do you mean ‘when you were his age’?" Okay. But those moments are no longer for public view (if I can help it). Maybe there is a little Glen Davis in a lot of us. And that brings us to now.

Part of the dilemma for Glen is that he has a personality as big as Shaq’s, but he hasn’t yet consistently demonstrated a game big enough to back it up to make skeptics happy. I understand that. I was hoping a bigger, more consistent game would emerge before he took the lid off his extra large personality.

But Glen Davis marches to a different drummer. The lid is coming off that ‘made for media’ personality of his now. So be it. So tweet it. So Ustream it.  You don't want to bury it or suffocate it. The same goes for his game. Is this finally the time to see more of it?

Doc Rivers wanted very limited and specific things from Davis on the court before this season. Play defense, set picks and shoot. Play defense, set picks and rebound. He has proven to be a consummate team player in spite of a unique personality you would think otherwise of.

Glen Davis Unchained
But now we hear that both Danny and Doc expect bigger things from Davis this season. Will this season reveal Glen Davis unchained?

To best utilize Glen I think you need to put him with a shot blocker on defense and allow him to work with the ball outside on offense. That sounds like a natural fit with Shaq.

Glen is an under rated passer, can hit the open jumper and needs to define his game around the middle more. Hopefully, he will get the chance to do so. Working the 'pick and pop' with both Nate Robinson and Delonte West seems quite doable. Rebounding is always a requirement on this team.

We are seeing Davis’ multi-faceted personality. Will we see a more multi-faceted game?

I think Glen has one and if given the chance, will demonstrate it more consistently as the season wears on. It sounds like he will get the chance to do so. But I’m not sure exactly how, in what has been a fairly disciplined offense, with a limited amount of shot attempts to go around.

For a player who has been doing a lot of fooling around on the internet this off season, there will be no fooling around on the court for Glen Davis. He is the only experienced Celtic big man under age 30 available until Perkins returns. They will need him.

With an NBA title as a goal and a new contract in sight, I am expecting Glen to come through…shall we say…big time?

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