We’re moving into the regular season and continuing with our Expected Scoring player profiles. Today we’ll be looking at the Boston Celtics’ Glen Davis.
If you’ve missed my other posts on the subject, Expected Points uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals. The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.
Over the past three seasons Glen Davis has emerged as a valuable bench contributor for the Boston Celtics. With some very distinct limitations to his skill set and capabilities, Davis has found his niche, providing energy, defense and spot scoring for the C’s. He’s chipped in a few big plays down the stretch in playoff games and has certainly earned his place in Boston’s rotation. The Celtics believed in his abilities to contribute enough that they let equally promising young big man, Leon Powe, leave before last season (Powe did have a fairly significant injury history).
Even with the increased front-court depth from the additions of Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal, Davis has stepped up his production and has been one of the most consistent and effective offensive threats through three games for the Celtics. Here are his traditional stats (per 40 minutes) from his last three seasons and the 2010-2011 season through 3 games:
Davis’ rebounding, assist and individual defensive numbers have fallen slightly. However, he has been playing solid team defense, as the Celtics’ Defensive Rating is 11.27 points better with Davis on the floor. In addition, he is scoring the ball at a career rate, on career high percentages, all while not turning the ball over once in 86 minutes.
Let’s now break down his scoring efficiency in a little more depth. Below is a table showing Davis’ Expected Points, Actual Points and Point Differential for each area of the floor from the last two seasons and through the first 3 games of this season (all numbers are per 40 minutes). If you prefer a spreadsheet to the embedded table photo, here is the link.
One of the most obvious differences so far this season has been Davis’ efficiency inside of 10ft. He has never scored at an above expected rate at the rim, but so far this season is scoring 2.95 more points per 40 than expected from that area. Altogether, he has posted a +4.78 Point Differential on shots inside of 10ft.
An interesting paradox in relation to those numbers is his Free Throw Rate and his Blocked Shot Rate. His Blocked Shot Rate (the percentage of his shots which are blocked) has fallen from 17.9% last season, one of the highest in the league, to only10% this season. One would expect this to correlate with an increase in his Free Throw Rate; if his shot isn’t being blocked he is likely drawing and finishing through contact. However, his Free Throw Rate has also fallen from 0.49 to only 0.13 this season.
Looking at his Blocked Shot Rate and Free Throw Rate leads me to believe that he is ending up with a high number of wide open layups, either off offensive rebounds, in transition, or off well executed cuts in the half-court set. Wide open shots like these may not be as freely available throughout the season, would could lead to a decline in his scoring rate at the rim. That being said, he is taking more shots at the rim than he ever has and making them at a much better rate than he ever has. He certainly deserves some credit for making the most of his opportunities with the ball in the paint.
Another area where Davis has seen some significant improvement is on his 16-23ft. jumpshots. Knocking down open mid and long range jumpers was always a piece of his offensive role, but this year he is taking and making more of them than he ever has. Three games is an extremely small sample size and it’s entirely possible that his shooting will tail off, but this is an area where I am more apt to attribute improvement to skill development as opposed to luck.
All together Glen Davis has posted a per 40 minute Point Differential of +5.08 through three games. This represents an astonishing improvement, as last year’s was a -2.25. As Boston’s roster has turned over, Davis has become one of the more senior guys in the team. I’m of course referring to seasons in Boston as opposed to age or NBA experience. This appears to have had a strong positive impact on his confidence. He appears to have developed his offensive skill somewhat and has obviously worked hard to get himself into game shape. Davis’ offensive efficiency will almost certainly flatten out, but everything seems lined up for him to be a positive contributor in terms of offensive efficiency for the first time in his career.