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A Clipper a Day - Paul Davis

Meet your new backup center.

ClipsNation, Paul Davis.  Paul Davis, ClipsNation.

As a rookie second round draft pick on a team with established front court players, Paul Davis didn't figure to get a lot of burn in 06-07.  In fact, his 180 minutes played were 13th on the team, last among players who were signed for the entire season whose names didn't rhyme with Schmorolev.  Interestingly, despite the limited opportunity, Davis did lead the team in scoring in a game last December against the Spurs when he put up 15 points and 6 rebounds on a day when Chris Kaman was sick.  (The sad part is, Kaman never led the team in scoring last season.)  So there's that.

It's no secret that I think coach MDsr could do a better job developing young players.  But if James Singleton couldn't get off the bench last season, Davis had no chance.  If Kaman, Elton Brand and Tim Thomas were healthy and not in foul trouble, they soaked up all the minutes at the bigs.  It was pretty simple.

It's not so simple this season.  With Elton Brand out for at least the first couple months of the season, SOMEONE is going to have to get the 38 minutes he played each game.  Will Paul Davis start in place of Elton Brand until his return?  Unlikely.  Although he did start at the 4 and play well in two pre-season games, don't expect more than the very occasional match up start during the regular year.  (Guarding Kwame Brown or Mikki Moore in a pre-season game is very different from guarding Al Harrington next Friday.)  So while there is no ideal solution at the starting 4, I fully expect MDsr to go with the veteran Thomas for the time being.

But I also expect Davis to be Kaman's primary backup at center.  It's not in MDsr's nature to play small, so his options when Kaman is on the bench are essentially limited to Davis, Aaron Williams or possibly Josh Powell.  Williams will provide solid low post defense in situations as needed this season, but he's 36 and in the final year of his contract.  Surely even MDsr can see that the 23 year old with a future is preferable to the 36 year old with none.  We'll see.  As for Powell, Davis simply outplayed him in pre-season.

Make no mistake, Davis looked good in the exhibition games.  After a couple bad shooting nights (2-10 and 1-7) early, he settled down and shot the ball well.  He appears to be very comfortable with the face up jumper, and could be a weapon on the pick and pop.  He rebounded well, and played solid if uninspiring defense.  He is also an excellent passer for a big man - easily the best passing big on the roster.  He averaged over 3 assists per game during the pre-season, and had games of 7 assists and 5 assists.  Maybe it's because I watched him in person against Sacramento, but it seems to me his upside comparison is Brad Miller.  Big, good face up shooter, good skills for his size, excellent passer from the high post.  Let's hope he never goes with the cornrows.  

The knock on Davis is that he's not athletic enough, but he's actually quicker than you think.  Coach told Joe Stevens of the Press-Telegram last week that they like his athleticism and quickness.  Also according to Stevens, Davis will be the first big off the bench in the early going:

Coming into training camp, the Clippers didn't have too many positions to be determined. The 15 players on their roster were set, and for the most part, Dunleavy had a pretty firm idea of his rotation.

But the question of who would be the first big man off the bench was to be determined, and that appears to have been won by center Paul Davis.

So we'll see about Paul Davis.  In limited exposure (at Michigan State, last season and this pre-season) I've liked what I've seen.  But I haven't seen that much.  

One final note: while I've criticized John Hollinger's draft analysis methodology, his system considered Davis the 7th best college player available in last year's draft, ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge.  So in this one case anyway, let's hope Hollinger is right.