The now 39-14 Toronto Raptors had a quiet trade deadline this year. As Bobby Webster stated in his post-deadline press conference Thursday afternoon, Toronto’s team of front office personnel scoured the market focused on improving the team – looking at big moves, small moves, and roster tinkering deals – but nothing out there was eye-popping enough to convince Webster and co. to swing for the fences. Understandably so, if the right deal isn’t there, you don’t force it – especially not when you’re as hot as the Raptors have been – but most Raptors fans probably wanted to see a fringe move that would send Patrick McCaw out the door in exchange for someone who could bolster the bench’s offense via one of the forward positions.
After the Charlotte Hornets bought out veteran Marvin Williams yesterday afternoon, Raptors fans were again rejuvenated with hope that their roster dabbling aspirations could materialize. That lasted for all of a few minutes before reports surfaced that Williams was choosing to sign with the league’s best; the Milwaukee Bucks.
Terence Davis Jr., the 22-year-old rookie from Southaven, Mississippi heard your prayers, Raptors fans. You want a scorer off the bench? He’s got you covered.
Over the past five games, Davis is shooting a blistering 60.0% from three-point-range on 6.0 attempts from deep per game, contributing to an outlandish 75.3% effective field goal percentage. Per 36 minutes, the rising star snub is averaging 24.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and is chipping in on the defensive end too, with 1.2 steals, and 0.9 blocks.
Merely six days after his illuminative 31-point performance, he carried the Toronto Raptors to their 14th consecutive victory without the likes of Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell. Tonight’s close finish gives the Raptors as many, or more wins straight than three separate NBA teams.
With tonight having been the second start of Davis’ career, he showed no fear of the spotlight. He opened up the very first possession of the game converting a 4-point play, making Terence Davis diehards pinch their skin until it bled in disbelief of what they were seeing.
The top half of the first quarter would go on to be an incredible run for the kid, as he went on to drop nine points in the opening five minutes of the game. Don’t read too much into the box score or play by play after that though – he remained glued to the bench through the second, taking a backseat to the red-hot Matt Thomas – Davis’ fellow undrafted rookie, who even converted an alley-oop on this dime from Serge Ibaka:
Serge Ibaka with the slick alley-oop to Matt Thomas pic.twitter.com/JnS2FeM55J
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA2) February 9, 2020
Ultimately, Davis finished tonight’s contest as a closer for the third consecutive time in a close game scenario. He was the second leading scorer tonight only to All-Star vote-getter Fred VanVleet, who put the team on his back late in the fourth as Caris LeVert and the Brooklyn Nets attempted a valiant comeback.
Currently, Davis ranks second among all qualified rookies in 3-point percentage, trailing only Michael Porter Jr. In addition to that, he ranks in the top-18 in points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game.
He’s also posting a +1.14 OPIPM (offensive player impact plus-minus) and a +0.21 DPIPM (defensive player impact plus-minus), illustrating his positive impact on the basketball game both offensively, and defensively, which makes him one of only three qualified rookies of that nature. He also has the highest overall PIPM (player impact plus minus) among all rookies. Not a rising star though; no, no.
Davis had his fair share of adversity throughout the beginning of the season, but the plethora of injuries which have occurred to the stars of this Raptors squad has been instrumental in helping Davis find his groove. Had the team gone through the full season with a healthy rotation, there’s a good chance that Nick Nurse would never have given TD a legit look outside of some garbage time minutes. Now, he could easily be the second or third guy off the bench on any given night, even with a fully-healthy team.
Davis knew he was good enough to enter the NBA on his own terms. Anyone in the position that he was in would have been called insane for not sticking to the status quo, and taking a two-way contract. To him, that’s just another day in the office; another day where you’re turned back to the drawing board, and have to grind harder; another day where you’ve gotta Make ‘Em Believe, as TD would say.
What we’re witnessing right now could be the burgeoning of the NBA’s newest star. It’s a trivial sample size, and to claim that we’re witnessing the breakout of greatness would be asinine, but to disregard Davis’ potential given this stretch of play would be just as foolish. The only way to find out what the future holds for the bright young piece of the Raptors’ future core is to let it play out before our eyes. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to enjoy it.