Davis’ Career Year May Equal All-Star Berth
If Ricky Davis isn't on your All-Star Ballot, you haven't been paying attention to one of the most dynamic players in the NBA.
Davis' left forearm tells most of the story. His mantra, "Get Buckets", is stitched on his sweatband, yet he hardly needs reminding. Davis is enjoying a career year in scoring (21.1 PPG) and assists (5.4 APG), so even when he's not getting buckets, he's creating them for his teammates.
Davis doesn't just get regular buckets, either; he has a flare for the dramatic. He nailed the game winner against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 9 on a Paul Pierce kick-out as time expired to seal an early season home win.
Ricky's midrange game may be his most lethal weapon. With a reputation for going to the rack, Davis gets plenty of respect from opponents when he gets to the paint, which generally translates to defenders playing on their heels. That leaves more than enough room for Davis to pull up and pop off his midrange jumper – something of a lost art in today's NBA.
Despite the fact that he shows up in every team's scouting report ("We've got to stop Davis tonight") and regularly sees multiple defenders, Davis has become especially adept at hurting opponents by helping his teammates. His career-high average of 5.4 assists per game average leads the team this season, giving the Celtics young backcourt some much-needed veteran savvy.
Perhaps the best evidence of Davis' All-Star caliber play is his 47.2% field goal percentage, an impressive mark for a shooting guard who plays 42 minutes a night. Only Allen Iverson averages more playing time.
Shot selection is something that takes time to develop in the NBA, especially at the two spot, where "volume shooting" is part of the job description. And when Ricky spends time on the second unit, he's often the only scoring threat on the floor, making his job that much tougher because he's often asked to bail the team out at the end of the shot clock. So Davis often ends up having to create his own shot in a matter of seconds.
Did we mention that Davis can dunk? Throw it down, Ricky!
Davis' dunks are some of the most memorable baskets of the season. He's already got his own commercial of throw downs, each more impressive than the last. Whether he goes behind the back, between the legs, or just straight to the rack, Davis makes sure the dunk goes down in style.
Arguably one of the best athletes in the league, Davis is explosive one minute and graceful the next. Taking an outlet pass ahead of the pack, he rarely needs more than two dribbles to get to the free throw line, and once he gets that close, you might as well count it. You can hear the anticipation at the Garden when Davis gets a breakaway; everyone's waiting to see what kind of funk he'll put on his dunk.
Davis lifts off with raw power, and seems to glide toward the basket the way ninjas float between rooftops. And rather than trying to pull the rim off the glass, Davis generally opts for the "quiet" slam, where he barely touches the rim but throws the ball through quickly.
Another perfect example of Davis' scintillating athleticism came last Wednesday night in Oklahoma City on a fast break. Delonte West saw Davis ahead of the pack, and tossed him a half court alley-oop. The pass was actually deflected about five feet before it got to Davis, slowing it down so that Davis had almost no room under the basket after the catch. To compensate, Davis somehow slowed down in mid-flight, gathered the ball with his left hand, switched to the right and scooped it in off the glass before sailing out of bounds.
In the box score, that basket was just two points in the middle of a regular game, but it was an amazing layup that few people on earth, let alone the NBA, could have converted, and it represents the amazing body of work that Davis has amassed this season.
On the defensive end, Davis is getting the job done as well. His athleticism makes him an above average rebounder from the two spot. Meanwhile, his quickness finds him sneaking into the passing lane to pick off cross-court passes, helping him lead the Celtics in steals, which he typically converts into a quick slam.
His 4.7 rebounds per game and 1.5 steals per game place him among the leading Eastern Conference shooting guards in each category. And if anyone's keeping track, he's probably near the top of the Tommy Points list as well.
So will Davis' special season translate into an All-Star berth? You can help him by voting now on NBA.com.