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Lakers season preview: Ed Davis could have a breakout season

Ed Davis is looking to finally breakout after years of being close to making the leap as he enters his Lakers career.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

In my piece on Jordan Clarkson from earlier this month, my main focus was centered around the second-round pick being that "diamond in the rough" any team, including the Lakers, hopes to have fall in their hands. While they probably won't become franchise centerpieces, being able to find that type of asset is beneficial.

Despite the team's success in the 2014 NBA draft, the Lakers still had a lot of different roster needs. One of the gaping holes inside the team's rotation was their real lack of any front-court depth. Even with bringing Julius Randle aboard, the Lakers had a shallow front-court that only featured the top-flight rookie, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre. To help surround that inexperienced, young, core the Lakers went in three separate directions:

  1. Potentially overspending to help retain a proven player -- Jordan Hill

  2. Renting a controversial veteran to help fill a temporary role -- Carlos Boozer

  3. Signing a high-potential prospect to a cost-effective deal -- Ed Davis

As heavy focus remained on the first two players (Hill and Boozer), the signing of Ed Davis was mainly able to slide under the radar. There were definitely a handful of people surprised when it was announced Davis was signed to a cheap two-year, $2 million contract, the aforementioned duo was still able to draw the majority of the media attention.

That particular feeling of being under-the-radar has been a consistent emotion during Ed Davis' young NBA career. While Davis has been looked at as a solid frontcourt player during his separate stints at Toronto and Memphis, a variety of different issues have prevented him from getting the playing time that's necessary to carve out a role inside a team's frontcourt rotation.

During his less-than-notable 2013-14 campaign with Memphis, Davis showed a good all-around offensive arsenal. While working with the Grizzles' second unit, Davis was a dependable pick-and-roll option. Despite his lanky 6'10 frame, Davis was able to cut to the rim, using his quickness to get by defenders. In conjunction with his quickness, Davis is an average ball-handler who can get around his defender if he has the ball in his hands.

Davis was able to convert an effective 58.5% of his attempts from inside the paint. While his work in pick-and-roll is a huge factor behind his success, Davis has a keen ability to get a clean look around the rim. When he's working against an opposing front-court player, Davis can contort his body, sometimes mid-flight, to get an easier look at the basket. Here's a look at his field goal percentage chart from last season:


And here's a five-minute compilation of Ed Davis' work on offense:

Besides his scoring ability, Davis is an good rebounder. Davis has a slim frame but plays with the kind of tenacity and toughness that was absent from the Lakers last season. That solid combination helped Davis collect 3.5 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes, which would've put him second on the team in that category behind Jordan Hill.

Outside of his work from inside the paint, Davis can hit the occasional mid-range jumper. While this skill is definitely a work-in-progress, Davis shot 44 percent (22-of-50 attempts) from 10-14' out. Even though his ability as a dive-man should remain the main focus of his pick-and-roll game, Davis' progression as a mid-range shooter could definitely make him into an all-around offensive weapon.

On the defensive end, Davis' above-average level of mobility has helped push him into becoming a well-rounded defender. When it comes to working against more athletic opponents, Davis has proven capable of sticking close to them, no matter if they're working around the top of the key or cutting to the rim. In those scenarios, Davis can keep his body alongside his opponent to disrupt him at the rim.

Here's a long look at what Davis can bring to the Lakers' defense:

Davis is undersized as a center but can still defend his man in the post. The main reason behind this is Davis applies pressure to the posting up opponent, making it difficult for them to overpower him for an easy look around the rim.

Even though Davis has proven to be a pretty decent defensive player, he still has one extremely blatant flaw: He can be a shameless ball-watcher. While this has allowed him to have some solid moments as a help defender, there are far too many instances where Davis' eyes are zoned in on the ball-handler, which allows his man a clear look at the rim.

Davis has been overshadowed during his five-year NBA tenure but he definitely has the potential to be a breakout player with the Lakers. Even with the team's recent frontcourt additions, Davis should have a more significant role with Los Angeles than he did with Toronto and Memphis. With the Lakers, Davis should be implemented as the backup center behind Jordan Hill, which could potentially lead to an opportunity as a starter with Hill's previous injury and conditioning concerns.

No matter what role or duty Davis will be asked to perform during the upcoming season, it'll be extremely difficult for any other player on the Lakers roster to match the value that he'll be able to bring on a game-by-game basis. While most of that value is due to his bargain contract, Davis has the skill-set and potential to pay immediate dividends for the Lakers during the upcoming season.

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