Denton: Davis Will Be Hard at Work This Summer

By John Denton
May 10, 2012

ORLANDO – For the first time in his five-year NBA career, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis is out of the playoffs after just one round. Speaking with a determined look in his eyes and disappointment in his voice, Davis said he’s going to work hard this summer to make sure a first-round exit doesn’t happen to the Orlando Magic again anytime soon.

While some players look to forget about basketball with lavish vacations and excursions around the world, Davis said he plans to stay in Orlando all summer and work on his game. He said he’ll be a regular at the Magic’s practice facility at the Amway Center in an effort to improve his conditioning and skills.

``I ain’t going nowhere. I’m not taking any visits and (everybody) is going to see me around here all summer,’’ Davis said. ``I’m going to be here in this nice gym, we’ve got a kitchen and a nice cook. We’ve got a pool and a cold tub here. We’ve got six goals and great air conditioning and a machine so that I can get a lot of shots up. At the end of the day, you have to put your time in if you want to be successful.’’

Part of Davis’ mission also is to get into better shape so that he can be a full-time starter with the Magic next season. He signed a four-year, $27 million free-agent deal with the Magic last December, but he played off the bench most of the season behind 3-point shooting power forward Ryan Anderson. He struggled with that disappointment, struggled to find his place in the offseason and was booed at times when he couldn’t find his place with his new team.

But when Anderson and then Dwight Howard went down with injuries, Davis stepped in as a starter and thrived. Davis made 12 of his 13 starts in April, seeing his minutes rise to 31.3 a night over the final month. He averaged 16.4 points and 8.8 rebounds down the stretch while shooting 50.3 percent. And he carried the Magic in the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers, averaging 19 points and 9.2 rebounds against the 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert.

Davis said whether he starts or comes off the bench absolutely matters to him, and he’s hoping to put himself in a position to be a front-line player for the Magic next season.

``Yeah, it does (matter). One of the reasons I went into my funk was because I felt like I should have been a starter,’’ Davis admitted. ``When I finally got over that I started playing better. I prayed and God delivered to me the opportunity and in return I showed the world what I could do.

``Yeah, I want to start (next season). But at the end of the day, I can’t leave it to chance,’’ he continued. ``I have to be the best player that I can be so that when it comes down to picking the starters there is no question. I don’t want there to be any questions in anybody’s mind that I shouldn’t be starting. That’s just my approach to the whole summer.’’

Davis said accomplishing his goal of becoming starter begins with him being in peak physical conditioning. He thinks that fatigue was a big reason why he struggled somewhat in the second half of playoff games against the Pacers. The Magic lost Game 2 after leading at the half, fell in overtime in Game 4 and were eliminated after squandering a two-point lead with 11 minutes to play in Tuesday’s Game 5.

``I want to be able to play 40 minutes without getting tired. That’s what I realized in the playoffs,’’ Davis said. ``As a player you want to add a lot of things, but the most important thing for me is being able to play a whole game without getting tired.’’

Davis, who helped the Boston Celtics win a championship in 2008 and reach the NBA Finals in 2010, said the pain of watching other teams compete in the playoffs will drive him throughout the summer. He said his sole mission for the future is ``helping us hang a banner.’’ He battled through the deaths of his father and grandmother early in the year, and was able to salvage the season with a strong final month and a solid showing in the playoffs. That gives him a bit of peace of mind and will drive him throughout the summer at the Magic’s practice facility.

``I know at the beginning of the year, it was rocky for me and there was a lot of stuff happening that I had no control over. I finally got settled down and got back to doing what I love to do and that’s playing basketball,’’ Davis said. ``I tried to do a good job of filling that void once Dwight (Howard) went down. (People in the NBA) know what I can do and have seen me play in this league, and I just think there’s more to come from me as a basketball player. I want to show how I can affect the game and the level of confidence that I can play with.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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