Ed Davis Gives Weary Raptors Fans Something to Be Positive About

James BorbathContributor IDecember 8, 2012

Dec 5, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Toronto Raptors power forward Ed Davis (32) shoots the ball between Sacramento Kings power forward James Johnson (52) and power forward Thomas Robinson (0) during the second quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

There has been little to be positive about in terms of the Toronto Raptors, but Ed Davis might be the rare exception.

While Toronto has struggled its way through this NBA season, Davis’ play has been one of few bright spots after a season in which he, along DeMar DeRozan, both seemed to take major steps in the wrong direction in their development. Davis has started to show signs of maturity on and off the floor.

Hard to focus on anything positive after a pathetic effort from the Raptors in Utah that has fans demanding answers. Davis was not much of a factor in this one, as he struggled then left the game after bending his left ring finger while diving for a ball.

It was said via Twitter from several Raptors media in attendance that he had X-rays that came back negative. He was in theory able to return, but given the state of the game, Toronto decided not to risk it.

Davis had a bad night before the injury with no points, a rebound and a couple of fouls. Prior to tonight Davis had been fairly consistent. Things had been going well for Davis, since a game that sparked controversy from his good play and the poor play of Andrea Bargnani. The game was against San Antonio and ended in a double-overtime loss.

Davis had a double-double in that game of 15 points and 14 rebounds with a career-high eight offensive boards. I said at the time it was the best game of his career for the Raptors, having seen them all. Yet Ed and I—who was in attendance covering the game—were both spectators for the overtime. Raptors coach Dwane Casey would on that night pledge his allegiance to Andrea Bargnani, and things have been terrible for Toronto since.

Ed Davis however, has thrived since that time. Excluding tonight in Utah he has scored in double figures four of the last six games, including the performance against the Spurs. He had another double-double in a tough loss to the Kings in which he again would only be watching at the end of the night thanks to Casey's decision. 

In this six-game window Davis has averaged 10 points and 8.6 rebounds a game as well. He's also had five blocks and three steals, never shooting below 50 percent in any of the six games.

Ed Davis has had a bumpy start to his NBA career, not many would deny that. He missed training camp in his rookie season and than had a rushed camp thanks to the NBA lockout in year two. This season he was able to experience his first full training camp and preseason, after an experience at Las Vegas Summer League in which he was a major focus.

There was a change in Davis, and it was something I noticed right away covering the team’s media day. Davis had always been a fairly quiet guy, not mean at all, but not engaging. I was surprised when Ed approached me and said hello, and we exchanged pleasantries.

This came after a unexpected Twitter exchange we had in the spring not long after the draft. He told me through my Twitter handle (@DinoNationBlog) to keep sleeping on him. I have never asked him what caused him to tweet this my way. I think it was based on some tweets I had made about the possibility of him being traded, as part of a deal for the Toronto's eighth pick in last year’s draft.

That was a possibility, but it was not meant as me reporting, or speculating, but more as a joke to someone I know that is a huge Ed Davis fan. A lesson learned in social media for me for sure. This thought came to me after as to why Ed might have tweeted that. Instead, I just responded with that, I was rooting for him to prove his doubters wrong in Las Vegas.

Won’t break out the Vegas stats for you, but he did lead the Raptors in scoring, and over the summer he reconstructed his jump shot with the help of Raptors' coaching staff. He is pretty proud of the work he put into it. I had an interview with him about it and you could see the pride beaming from his face.

While DeMar DeRozan’s improved play was noted earlier in the season, Ed’s play deserves mention too. He faces a great, yet tough situation, in being the backup to public enemy No. 1 these days in Andrea Bargnani.

Can Ed remain motivated and keep playing at this high level, despite averaging a career low in minutes this season under Dwane Casey?

Time will tell and as Ed Davis told me, sleeping on him might not be a good idea. Many were heading into this season after he struggled in 2011-12. In a crowded Raptors’ frontcourt he is starting to make himself noticed. He is also getting a lot of fans jumping off Bargnani’s bandwagon and aboard his.

I'm not ready to declare him the most popular backup next to Tim Tebow or anything. Still, the number of Ed Davis’ supporters is trending up. Impressive in a situation when almost everything connected to the Raptors is trending in the opposite direction.