By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
With the NBA approaching its All-Star break, now is a time where a lot of experts and fans alike start to hand out midseason awards. Blake Griffin is the clear-cut choice for Rookie of the Year, the MVP race seems to coming down to LeBron, Derrick Rose, and Dwight Howard, and Garnett is making a strong case to recapture the title of Defensive Player of the Year from Howard. But what is probably the most surprising is the strong case one could make for Glen Davis as Sixth Man of the Year.
Davis is in his fourth and most productive season since being drafted by Boston in 2007. Through 53 games, he has career highs in minutes per game (29.5), free throw percentage (.756), rebounds (5.2), assists (1.4), and points (11.8). The numbers back up the fact that Davis is playing as good as anyone has seen him play in Boston, but where his real value comes is better stated in terms of when he is contributing. The first big man off the bench, Davis backed up Shaq for the first few months of the season, and now does the same for Perkins. With O’Neal often in foul trouble and fatigued late in games, Davis was part of the closing unit along side the other four starters. His role remains the same, as Perkins’ minutes are limited. Davis gives the Celtics a player that can score, play tough defense, and rebound late in games. He works well protecting the paint with Garnett, and has drawn an astounding number of charges. He is doing this all while being an undersized 6’9. Despite the apparent lack of height, Davis is active around the rim, scoring inside and collecting offensive rebounds. His ability to get shots up around taller defenders by using the rim and body position is impressive. You can also see an improvement in his post moves and jump shot. With the injuries the Celtics have had, especially to the front court, Davis has only started nine games, all when Garnett went down earlier in the season. He is by far the most important player off the Celtics bench right now, and is the foundation for the second unit.
So who is his competition for the Sixth Man Award? I think right now the popular choice, and deservedly so, is the Maverick’s Jason Terry. He’s averaging 16 points a game for Dallas and is a big reason why they are second in the West. Terry gives them instant offense off the bench,and is often on the floor with Kidd and Nowitzki. He can shoot threes and takes big shots at big moments. We saw it first hand earlier this month when Terry had 17 points in a 101-97 Dallas win in Boston.
There are a few other bench players in the league that have better numbers than Davis, but that shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding the award. Davis’s value to the Celtics can’t be measured completely by statistics. It’s also interesting to note that Davis is having his best season heading into free agency this summer. But for now, the Celtics are happy to have him wearing green, and making big contributions towards their goal of another NBA title.