Why you should be pleased if Glen Davis leaves the Clippers


Apr 30, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Glen Davis (0) dunks the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Glen Davis has been one of the hardest working members of the Los Angeles Clippers since he joined them in the 2013-14 season. His effort, tough screens, energy and leadership alongside old friend and head coach Doc Rivers have always been present, but that has rarely resulted in a positive impact on the floor. He delivers a drive to win, although that doesn’t always translate to wins.

Davis is a great personality and his veteran presence will be missed if he doesn’t re-sign with the Clippers for the 2015-16 season, but don’t worry if he leaves. Because even if you’ll be sad to see Big Baby’s character go, you certainly shouldn’t miss how he hurt the Clippers in games.

There’s a small chance he can work out a minimum deal with the Clippers, although it’s been reported that he’s considering playing overseas if he doesn’t re-sign. And if that’s something on his mind, it looks like he could well be departing.

So, in order to explain why you can be happy (and certainly not worry) if that happens, here’s a breakdown of Glen Davis’ performance this year.

Defense and Rebounding

May 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dribbles against Los Angeles Clippers forward Glen Davis (0) in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Los Angeles Clippers won 117 to 101. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The best part of what Glen Davis brings to the Clippers’ defense is the way he throws around his weight. He uses his 6’9″, 289 lbs frame to power into bigs in the post and constantly remind opponents of his strength. Which, when you’re in the weight room as much as Davis, is pretty much the best thing you can do. And despite the fact that he may not have the most impressive per game averages, Davis’ defense was his best attribute this year.

Per 36 minutes, Davis averaged 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks. Those numbers aren’t that impressive and they hardly describe Big Baby as a stellar defender. When looking at how he used his determination to hassle players, though, the amount he limited the efficiency of opponents is more important than his box score numbers.

As by delving into the statistics, Glen Davis is revealed as a surprisingly solid defender from within 10 feet of the basket.

From within 6 feet this year, he used his strength and resilience in the post to force opponents to shoot 3.4 percent worse than their season average from the same distance. When expanding his defensive range to 10 feet out, Davis made opponents shoot 2.3 percent lower than their average mark (per NBA.com Player Tracking).

Although that positive defensive effort helps, that’s pretty much where the bonuses of Glen Davis run out.

His shot contention was better than you might have thought this year and the offensive rating of opposing teams was even 3.7 points lower with him on the floor, but there’s a little more to look at than that. He allowed opponents to shoot a rather generous 50 percent at the rim, and that’s a problem before even considering his rebounding.

Davis recorded a total rebounding percentage of just 10.5 this season. To put that into perspective, the Clippers’ new backup center, Cole Aldrich, nearly doubled that with his mark of 20 percent, whilst the most tenacious rebounder in the league, DeAndre Jordan, had a total rebounding percentage of 24.5.

Obviously during times that Davis is on the floor with Jordan he isn’t going to grab many boards. He just doesn’t stand a chance against DJ’s freakish explosion and length. But when playing next to Blake Griffin or especially Spencer Hawes, Davis needed to make far more difference on the glass than he did. And after the Clippers ranked just 16th in rebounding rate this year, it would have made a serious difference if Big Baby could have delivered when Blake and DeAndre were on the bench.

The aspect of Davis’ game that’s really a cause for concern, though, is his offense. Which is why, more than anything else, you shouldn’t worry if he doesn’t return.


May 14, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Glen Davis (0) keeps the ball away from Houston Rockets guard Corey Brewer (33) during the second half in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

At 6’9″, Davis already has a disadvantage of being somewhat undersized for posting up taller bigs. And seeing as he lacks much skill in the post (he doesn’t have a reliable hook shot, face up game or soft stroke away from the basket), he never does more than kill the Clippers’ league best offense when he’s on the floor.

It sounds harsh, but it can’t be denied and the numbers prove it to be true.

Obviously Davis doesn’t have the athleticism to excel in transition, which is kind of implied by the nickname “Big Baby”, and due to not having a consistent mid range game either, he seriously slows down the Clippers’ dynamic offense. As after scoring just 11.7 points per 36 minutes, making only 35 percent of his hook shots and shooting no more than 21 percent from between 10-16 feet and 16 feet to the three point line, Davis doesn’t have a single consistent way of producing points.

So, in order to summarize Davis’ offense in one statistic, the change in the Clippers’ offensive rating when he’s on the floor is theo. Without Davis, the Clippers average 117.1 points per 100 possessions. With Davis, that number plummets by 18.5 points to just 98.6.

May 23, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Josh Smith (5) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) defends during the first half in game three of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Re-signing Davis is by no means a terrible decision, mainly because he’ll receive such limited minutes among the Clippers’ new rotation of bench players. But if he leaves, you don’t need to worry. The signing of Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich and even rookie Branden Dawson has solidified a frontcourt that is more than capable of supporting Griffin and Jordan.

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Smith is a far more athletic and versatile upgrade to step in as the Clippers’ new backup power forward. He can play as a small or power forward, and possesses the kind of speed and explosive finishing in transition to add an extra gear to Lob City that Big Baby never could.

One of my columns looking at how he suits the Clippers (before he signed) goes into far more detail and analysis (which you can read here), although it’s not hard to see that Smith is an obvious improvement. His improved perimeter shooting as of late (33 percent from three with the Houston Rockets), rebounding, and versatility to play and defend multiple positions is extremely valuable.

In short, Smith can do far more than Glen Davis. At both ends of the floor.

So whilst you may miss the entertainment of Big Baby’s enthusiasm and occasional energetic plays, there’s more reason to rejoice than sulk if he leaves. Because the days of the Clippers’ abysmal bench are coming to an end.

Next: Austin Rivers has far more to offer than a boring, father-son narrative