Ed Davis continues to show flashes of potential as his sophomore season in the NBA winds down, but the summer break won’t be the time for the young big man to take it easy.
Instead, his head coach would love to see him take a quick break after the season wraps up and then attack this offseason with vigour.
“He has got to go into the summer as soon as the season is over with and not take a month off,” Dwane Casey said of Davis over the weekend. “Our young guys are not 10- or 12-year vets who need a month to rest their bodies. He might need to take a few days off to recharge, but then he has to get right back into the gym and the weight room because we are going to be finished a lot quicker than these playoff teams so we are going to have a head start working with guys.”
Instead of fighting this idea, it appears Davis is onboard with the notion of dedicating his summer to working out and improving his game, far from the glare of the media or fans.
Kudos to Davis for being quick to admit he won’t have the luxury of taking a long vacation and embracing the offseason of hard work because I know I wouldn’t be excited about spending a five-month break from my job sweating through grueling workouts in empty gyms.
“It’s going to be real big,” Davis admitted when I asked him about how important this summer is to his development. “Once the season is over I’m going to take a week or two off, but after that I’m going to get right back at it. It’s a big offseason for me and I plan on taking advantage of it. To get stronger is my main goal. I need to put on some weight and muscle mass to be ready for next year.”
Davis has posted modest averages of 6.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game over his first two NBA seasons. Not bad numbers, but not great either. Clearly there’s plenty of room for growth in the 6-10 forward’s game.
Besides needing to add some extra pounds on his still-somewhat wiry frame, what many feel has hampered Davis’ adjustment to the NBA is the fact he has yet to have the benefit of a summer working directly with an NBA coaching staff. Davis had a wrist injury that prevented him from being able to develop his game prior to his rookie season. Last summer of course, the NBA lockout prevented Casey and the Raptors from working with him.
The inability to receive full instruction either summer clearly isn’t an ideal situation for any young player.
“We couldn’t touch him last summer due to the lockout and then we only had two weeks of training camp,” Casey lamented. “So basically, he hasn’t had a real, true NBA training camp. This summer and going into training camp are going to be big for him.”
What are the goals for this summer for Davis now that he will have full access to Toronto’s coaching staff?
Hitting the weight room and working on his free throws — not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but pivotal to him being able to bang down low against some of the larger post players in the NBA.
“This summer is going to be huge for him in regards to getting stronger in the weight room,” Casey explained. “He needs to get bigger. He needs to put the power into that power forward.”
Granted, this offseason is key in Davis development, but the coaching staff has taken noticed of his growth over the past few weeks.
“He has made a lot of progress the last two or three weeks,” Casey pointed out. “There’s a pep in his step. Offensively, he has a good feel. He’s got a nice little stroke on his jump shot. His free throws still need a lot of work, but coach Davis has been working a lot with him individually after practice. He has kind of put him under his arm. He has been doing it all year, but a little bit extra these last few weeks. Ed has responded and I’m really happy to see that.”
While Davis is shooting a high percentage from the field, there have been no delusions about his touch on the offensive end so far during his NBA career. Thanks to working with assistant coach Johnny Davis, he is finally able to refine his touch on the offensive end.
“It’s helping me out a lot just working on go-to moves,” the Raptors forward explained. “We’ve also worked on a couple of countermoves. By working with (Johnny Davis) it’s going to help me continue to get better on the offensive end. Working with him is (clearly) helping my game.”
Still, just because Davis has shown glimpses over the final few games of this season, it doesn’t mean he can take it easy once the season ends. Hopefully he is able to stick with the vision the coaches have for him so that he can have a big impact on the Raptors next season. While far from glorious or enjoyable, a summer of working hard in the gym is just what Davis needs his help his game progress to the next level.