It took rookie forward Brandon Davies less than 10 minutes after the final pick of the 2013 Draft before he knew where he wanted to go.
He had worked out with the Clippers earlier in June and despite the disappointment of not hearing his name called among 60 draft picks the former BYU standout was pleased with what transpired next.
“It did get me down,” Davies said of not getting selected, “but less than 10 minutes after the Draft I get this call with this amazing deal which happened to be better than some of the guys who did get drafted got.
“I can definitely use that as fuel, seeing some guys that got drafted that I feel like I can probably be better than, whether that’s now or in the long run. I just know myself. I know I’m going to work every day and try to get better every day.”
Davies, 22, officially inked his deal with the Clippers Thursday, landing a spot on the team’s training camp roster more than six weeks after a five-game stint in the Las Vegas Summer League.
“I think he has a chance to be a player in our league,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We really liked him in Summer League. We liked his energy. We liked his ability to play multiple positions. And I think he’s a thinker. It seems like he just fits. He understands team basketball and he has the ability to play his game and not get in the way of other people playing their game.”
He averaged 5.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in Vegas, including a starting nod in the final game. A week later he was living in Los Angeles, working out at the Clippers’ facility each morning and playing pickup basketball into the early afternoon.
“My first day that I got out here I was doing a one-on-one workout with Blake Griffin,” Davies said. “After that we’re playing pickup. I’ve had to guard Kevin Durant and Carmelo [Anthony] and Metta World Peace and a lot of other great players, who I’ve grown up watching. It’s one of those things where if the stuff you’re doing here doesn’t get you better then basketball’s not for you.”
It has been a crash course so far. While he played center in college, Davies, who is 6-foot-9, could slide into either forward spot in the pros. He’s working to expand his range, improve his defensive instincts and soaking in everything.
“We’re in here every day shooting,” Davies said. “Those are the shots the coaches have me going through, shots I’m going to get in a game. We drill that every day. I’m definitely getting more comfortable at it and the more confident I get the more I’ll knock down. Besides the drills that they have me going through on the shooting side of it, there are also defensive drills and things like that. Me personally, I just try to make sure my energy’s high and make sure I’m vocal at the defensive end of the floor and trying to bring that extra spark and try to do the little things that they want me to do.”
A year ago, Davies approached his senior season in a similar fashion, regularly looking to improve. BYU head coach Dave Rose called Davies an “old-school gym rat.” As a senior he earned a captaincy and upped his scoring to a career-high 17.7 points per game.
“His talent is up there at the very top [of players I’ve coached] in terms of making winning plays in big games,” Rose said in a telephone interview. “He is so committed to teammates and his individual game.
“If someone shows a little bit of trust and confidence in him he’ll give you everything he has and that’s what I liked most about him.”
Davies left BYU ranked amongst the school’s top 10 all-time in a dozen statistical categories, including winding up fifth in blocks and rebounds. Rose believes that Davies’ on-court achievements pale in comparison, though, to the litany of less noticeable things he contributed.
“He has a unique skillset, which is attractive to a coach,” Rose said. “He’s young, energetic, gets along with everybody. I think he could be a great teammate in the NBA for years to come.”
Still, Davies went from being a heralded collegian to a fringe NBA prospect. He attended the Chicago Draft combine and was invited to more than a dozen individual workouts during the pre-Draft process, but he may have been viewed as a so-called “tweener,” stuck between forward spots.
“It’s hard to explain what I thought would happen with Brandon [in the Draft],” Rose said. “The feedback was that everyone liked him, but didn’t know how he would be used. After the Draft was over everyone was sort of looking around and we were surprised, but he got a call from his agent and it worked out with the Clippers. Sometimes that helps. You get in where a team really wants you.”
Davies approached signing with the Clippers in a similar way to his former coach. It served as a signal that things might have worked out for the best.
“I definitely take the positive things out of it,” Davies said. “It’s definitely the way I like to work. I definitely have to work for everything here. Nothing’s been handed to me. That’s how I’ve gotten better every year is by being put in situations like this where I’ve had to work and kind of have a battle within myself to try and bring it every day.”