The Memphis Grizzlies traded away Rudy Gay at the end of January in the interest of saving money. One of the players that they acquired in that deal was Ed Davis from the Toronto Raptors. In his 45 games in Toronto this season, Davis produced solidly, averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 boards per game while playing just 24.2 minutes per game. He also shot 54.9 percent from the field.
Coming to Memphis though, Davis’ role was obviously going to be a smaller one than it was with the Raptors given that the Grizzlies have two All-Star-caliber post-players in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. However, it’s puzzling that the Grizzlies have gone to Darrell Arthur as their primary front court player off the bench over using Davis.
In Davis’ 13 games with Memphis, he has averaged just 11 minutes per game, a number skewed by the 24 minutes he played in a blowout win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Meanwhile, Arthur has seen the floor for an average of 14.5 minutes per game, a number also skewed by the Magic game as he played just nine minutes due to a minor injury.
If Arthur had been outperforming Davis, the decision to give him more minutes would be justified—but he hasn’t been. Over those 13 games, Arthur has averaged 11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and one block per 36 minutes on just 39.4 percent shooting. Davis, on the other hand, has averaged 14.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting 64.9 percent from the floor. It’s pretty clear who has been the more productive of the two players.
Perhaps it’s just a familiarity thing that’s keeping Davis off the floor, but for a guy to have produced as solidly as he has in such limited opportunities, it seems unwise to keep him buried on the bench while a player who is less effective gets decent minutes. Sunday’s game against the Magic was the perfect example. With Davis getting the opportunity to play, he put up 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks on 5-6 shooting in just 24 minutes. It’s hard to argue with numbers like that.
On a nightly basis, Davis isn’t going to be a player who sees the floor 20-plus minutes per game. Randolph and Gasol are obviously more effective players than he. However, as the Grizzlies head towards the NBA playoffs, it seems like it’s time to bring Davis off the bench more than Arthur. He’s been the more productive and effective of the two players; whether he’s new to the team or not is irrelevant.