On one hand it’s unfair to directly compare Jon Leuer and Ed Davis. The two forwards have completely different styles different games different strengths. But they stand in line together behind Zach Randolph and one’s minutes will come out of the other’s pot. To anyone who has waded through the Grizzlies first two sloppy preseason performances Leuer has been a bright spot albeit a milky and un-athletic one. To my eyes Leuer looks like an untapped source of regular season production one that has been overshadowed by Ed Davis’ promised potential.

Davis bills himself as a rebounding and shot blocking specialist with a solid field goal percentage and a decent (at best) post game. The problem is as anyone who watched him play 15 minutes a game last year saw he is downright wispy on the block and tends to get shoved out by players his own size on rebounds. Now and then he compensates with sheer length but he simply doesn’t have Zach Randolph’s gravity under the rim. (Davis’ shot blocking actually went up when he moved to Memphis maybe because he faced more rotation players than starters coming off the bench.)

The Two Man Game

Looking into why Marc Gasol and Mike Conley work so well together.

If Davis doesn’t fundamentally improve his rebounding either with added bulk or better balancing his offense isn’t enough to even out his value. Yes Davis shoots 50%+ from the floor but his game is limited to high percentage attempts (dunks). He is simply inconsistent in back-to-the-basket and pick-and-roll situations unless a lane to the basket opens up. Where Zach Randolph spends his time without the ball bullying defenders and digging into the paint Davis floats around sets half-hearted screens and is often unsure of his next move by the time the ball reaches his hands. How many times did we see him covered by a defender he had beat because he took a power dribble under the basket or shifted his feet before driving the lane?

I also want to mention Davis’ dreadful free throw percentage. Through two preseason games he is 7 of 17 (2-10 last night) from the stripe so it looks like all those hours in the gym with a shooting coach really…never happened.

I don’t want to seem too down on Davis especially since he is currently the heir apparent to Z-Bo and showed great promise in Toronto. When his game is flowing Davis is a joy to watch. The problem I’m getting at is his tendency to lull on offense and his troubling incompatibility with Memphis’ bread and butter offensive and defensive schemes.