In talking with Cavaliers guard Baron Davis, it took everything I had to not ask the blatantly self-serving question. Thankfully, Davis didn’t need much baiting as he and the rest of his teammates are focused on the big picture: next year.
As he has countless times since his arrival, Davis spoke highly of the young players who litter the Cavaliers’ roster, applauding their growth over the last month of play while stating that the rest of the season – though the team has long been out of the playoff hunt – is about playing hard, executing offensively and take each remaining game as an opportunity to grow.
One of two veterans on the roster, Davis himself has not spent much of his time with the team on the floor, having played less than 31 minutes in every game since the late-February trade. When asked if the progress of players like Ramon Sessions, Alonzo Gee – averaging 11 points and four rebounds over the last three games – and Samardo Samuels had anything to do with his landing in Cleveland, Davis was willing to take on some of the credit but would attribute the majority of the effectiveness to time spent together.
“I just reiterate a lot of what the coaches tell them,” said Davis, the player who Byron Scott previously deemed his “fifth head coach.” “Guys get excited when they see what they’re being taught actually work in a game.”
Davis continues to spend the bulk of his practice time with players like Sessions, Gee and Manny Harris, helping those younger than him learn new tactics even with the majority of the season in the rear-view mirror.
“I, myself, being a leader on this team, I have to make sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing on the floor, getting guys in the right position and keeping guys together,” said Davis.
Since Davis has been inserted into the starting lineup, the Cavaliers have averaged 112.5 points per 100 possessions. In the 11 games prior, the Wine and Gold were scoring an average of 91.9 points per 100 possessions.
In 10 games with the Cavaliers, Davis is averaging 14.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals in just under 25 minutes per game. Doing a lot of his damage from beyond the arc, Davis is hitting at a 45.9 percent clip – the sixth-highest mark in the league over said span.
Though still a work in progress, Davis feels that the last month of play shows that this very young team has the ability to continue their growth into next season and these last six games can only help carry their confidence into the offseason. Following Sunday night’s game in New York, Davis even went as far as to use the “P” word.
“I think next year, barring injuries, is going be a great year for us,” the two-time All-Star stated. “(If we) get some guys healthy – get myselfhealthy – and I think we’re not far off being where you see the Knicks and a lot of these teams in the Playoffs. We’ll be fighting for a Playoff position definitely next year.”