Child’s Play

Around 12 P.M. each game day, the Orlando Magic complete their shoot-around. Some players go to the trainers, some go to the hot/cold tubs, and a fleet of reporters blankets some players.

As the various players disperse throughout the arena, one player remains on the court with his Nike’s squeaking against the hardwood floor, drenched in sweat and breathing heavy. He is either working on his free-throws or his ever improving jump-shot; this player has a lot to prove. He has played in the shadow of Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett during his career, and now he is ready to show the world that this is his time.

Since David Stern called his name in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft, Glen Davis’ maturity level has always been in question by his teammates and coaching staff. The questions surrounding his maturity, or lack thereof, has hindered his growth as a player. A year after being sent to Orlando via a sign-and-trade, and months after the “Dwightmare” saga, Davis has finally found a basketball home; not as a backup, but as a starter and a veteran leader on one of the younger teams in the league.

Davis has played with Garnett and has been coached by Doc Rivers, a leader of men. Therefore, the conception of Davis metamorphosing from a young player with juvenile predispositions into a team leader is not a far-fetched idea to fathom.

“I’ve always seen it; one day I will have an opportunity to lead, but I never had that opportunity,” Davis said.

That is a quote Davis would have never said in Boston; being an understudy to Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. This quote is also a test to his maturity level, not only as a person, but also as a basketball player. Now that he has been asked to be a leader, both on and off the floor, this new frame of mind can have a positive outcome on his play and the play of the younger players on this Orlando Magic team.

Davis’ maturity may be attributed to playing under Doc Rivers, and the current Orlando Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn, both whom are considered leaders of men.

In 21 games this season, Davis has averaged 16.0 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game; and on a frontline that is softer than Johnson’s baby lotion; Davis’ season averages should escalate due to the injury of swingman Hedo Turkoglu. On defensive possessions, Davis is in constant communication with his teammates; always yelling out directions – a skill he learned from playing alongside Garnett in Boston.

Furthermore, on offense, Davis is averaging a career high in shot attempts and is shooting 74% from the free-throw line; a stark and bleak comparison to his predecessor in LA who is shooting 46% from the free-throw line this year.

Is this the same Davis that famously cried like a big baby on the bench in Boston when Garnett yelled at him for missing a defensive assignment? The answer to that is no, he is no longer a big baby. He has developed into a man that is ready to take his game to the next level.

Additionally Davis has also taken rookie Maurice Harkless under his wing. During the first seven games of the season, Harkless only played sparingly off the bench. However, after being mentored by several veteran players such as Davis and Aaron Afflalo, Harkless has gained his confidence and finds himself inserted into the starting line-up with consistent minutes.

Nobody denies Davis’ heart, but critics have questioned his attitude. This season more than ever, he has done everything to shed his past reputation. Hence, Davis might be one reason the Magic inches closer to respectability this season. Davis brings the Magic an unexpected enhancement in leadership and veteran play.

Davis has proved, so far, that he is a man amongst boys and that is no laughing matter.

About the Author

Jammel Cutler Jammel Cutler is a sports columnist that covers the NBA. He can be reached on twitter @JCut_NBA

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