’13-’14 YEAR IN REVIEW: Rapheal Davis
Note: This is the fourth of the postseason Year In Review series. Click that shiny link to see them all. They will recap their 2013-2014 season, show their “GIF of the Year”, state my favorite nicknames, and give a best/worst case scenario for next season.
Warning: stuff got real weird for my best/worst case scenarios.
2013-2014 season recap
6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals in 18.5 minutes per game, 43% shooting from the field and 27% from beyond the arc (on 4.4 field goals and 1.0 three-pointer attempted per game).
Those numbers are the definition of “decent wing, sixth man”, so I could see how people unfamiliar with this Purdue team would scoff when I pick Rapheal Davis as my linchpin for this Boilermaker season. But make no mistake…with the transfer of Ronnie Johnson, medical retirement of Jay Simpson, and the quiet style of AJ Hammons, Ray’s vocal leadership will be essential for Purdue’s success with no scholarship seniors on roster.
Ray and AJ are this year’s grizzled vets, and any team success will be predicated on them stepping up both on- and off-the-court. After a successful Big Ten Media Day, it’s clear that these two have become the leaders we've been waiting for since the Hummel/Ryno/LewJack class left West Lafayette.
Ray was named a captain halfway through last year, taking some of the leadership reigns from Travis Carroll last year (I guess?), so his off-the-court growth can’t be stressed enough. It’s the, you know, actual basketball stuff that needs to take a matching step forward.
Defensively, Davis is a versatile wing who Coach Painter can trust to hustle and stay true to the team’s core principles. Purdue boasts two true 7-footers for the first time in the Painter era, and given Hammons’ and Isaac Haas’ ability to play together, I think the Boilers have a potentially elite rim-protecting scheme that could surprise most opponents.
That potential, however, hinges on perimeter defenders like Davis, Scott, and Basil Smotherman. Davis’ ability, in particular, to aggressively pressure opponents from three point range (see the GIF below) will force the ball inside…where Hammons and Haas will be camping to contest absolutely everything at the rim.
This is the side of the ball that I don’t worry about with Davis. Offensively…that’s another story.
Despite the small shooting volume (just over 4 shots attempted per game, 9 per 40 minutes), this chart highlights Davis’ offensive shortcomings. We see a few low-sample spots that have some promise (the nail, the top of the arc, and the right corner), but overall Ray must develop a reliable jumper to keep defenses honest. Much like my thoughts on Bryson Scott, Ray’s reluctance to shoot gives defenders a cushion to get a few steps closer to the paint, giving Hammons and Haas less room to work.
Davis’ shooting percentage and shot distribution at the rim is really promising, as is the potential on the left block. But if (at minimum) a corner three isn’t developed, I’m having a really hard time envisioning an on-the-court role for Davis…especially considering Mathias’ and Stephens’ shooting prowess at the same position.
Here’s the thing: nobody in a million years doubts Ray’s willingness to work his butt off. Beat writers suggested that he was a little out-of-his-element during his freshman year, and only hit his stride during the end of his past year. Depending on his basketball role, I don’t even think his raw points/rebounds/assists stats have to significantly jump.
All the team needs from Ray this year is that same PLAY HARD-embodying defense from last year, coupled with a consistent 33%-or-above corner three point shot. If he can carve out a role on offense, I see Coach Painter relying on Davis as an extension of the coaching staff on the court; a real steadying-force that the Boilermakers haven’t had in two seasons.
GIF(s) of the year
[NOTE: Twitpic is shutting down, because the internet obviously hates me. I'm currently working on exporting all of my stuff and reposting on Imgur. I'll update this asap.]
Nickname: Ray D, THE CAPTAIN
Unsolicited BS Advice for 2014-2015
Purdue’s summer led to some huge roster turnover, given the departures of Jay Simpson, Ronnie and Terone Johnson, Travis Carroll, Sterling Carter, and Errick Peck. Despite some very low preseason prediction rankings, the one thing this 2014-2015 Purdue roster doesn’t lack is talent. With 5 four-star recruits (all appearing on multiple Top-100 recruit rankings), it’s clear that the glaring need for this team is on the leadership front. Become that go-to head of the team, the loudest voice cheering during big Purdue runs as well as the calm locker room voice sent to speak to the media after tough losses.
In addition to showcasing a reliable corner three, a mental fortitude to push through any slump is critical for this season’s success. Below are minutes per game numbers from 2012-2013 (freshman year) and 2013-2014 (sophomore year).
Energy, hustle, and vocal leadership aren't enough. Look at the drop-off in 2013-2014, right up until the last ten Big Ten games. Mental maturity, emotional control, and an improving offensive role gave Coach Painter a reason to increase minutes in that final stretch of conference play. Continue developing through the next two seasons, and the coaching staff will never have a reason to lower those minutes again.
BEST/WORST: Remember, this is the top and bottom of the spectrum. The most likely scenario is somewhere in the middle. (Worst case scenarios come with a complimentary side of ACL tears.)
Best case: RayD continues to validate the faith Steve Landry and I put in him almost three years ago and becomes Purdue’s leader by example. His hard work and dedication to Coach Painter’s scheme wins him the trust of the coaching staff, and sets the standard for every Purdue player who joins during the next two years. His basketball role is an overqualified glue guy, who does the dirty work on the floor (diving for loose balls, fighting bigger forwards for rebounds, filling in at whatever position Coach asks of him, the vocal ‘quarterback’ for Purdue’s perimeter defenders) while still being able to bail Purdue out during their inevitable cold offensive stretches. The Paint Crew favorite. After a great European professional career, he returns to Purdue in a coaching role and becomes another branch on the Keady/Painter coaching tree.
Worst case: Though his work ethic is undeniable, RayD never develops any single elite-level skill that keeps him on the court during the Big Ten gauntlet. Coach Painter wants to reward Davis’ effort with minutes, but his skill level just isn't up to the task (think Travis Carroll). His silent leadership turns into pure silence, and he plays out the rest of his Purdue career without speaking another word to any human being. Ray D realizes his true calling as a street-performing mime, and decides to wander the streets of Paris and New York continuing the worlds’ great tradition of…mimes, I guess. After a brief stint as one of those fully-painted fake statue dudes, he decides to become a British guard (one of these guys), which successfully combines his desire for silence with his need to do the dirty work for the greater good.