Whether it’s Eazy Ed, Phys. Ed, Big Ed or whatever Trail Blazers fans choose to call fan favorite Ed Davis: his presence on the court on the first day of Training Camp on Tuesday in Tualatin was very much a welcome sight to teammates and coaches.
The 6-10 center entering his 8th season in the NBA was cleared for action on Monday after spending the summer rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder on March 7. The injury hobbled Davis for much of last season as the North Carolina product averaged 4.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 46 games before being sidelined for good in late February.
Tuesday was the first full-contact basketball activity for Davis since the surgery.
“For me personally, it felt good to get back out there with the fellas,” Davis said.
Of the injury and the troubles that came with it, Davis told reporters at the team’s Media Day on Monday: “My labrum was torn, so there was certain things that I couldn’t do. It got to a point where I couldn’t go up and make five layups in a row with my left hand. That just shows how much it was bothering me. But I’m glad I got [surgery] done, and I’m healthy now.”
Davis’ defensive intellect and energy at the offensive end were important components in the Blazers’ success during his first season in Portland when he put up averages of 6.5 points and 7.4 rebounds over 81 games in 2015-16. As the injury nagged on last season, Davis wasn’t able to contribute as he had in the season previous, but the healthy Ed Davis that took the court on Tuesday was the Ed Davis that made an impact at both ends in 2015-16 according to coaches and teammates.
“Ed had his bounceback,” head coach Terry Stotts said. “Ed looked like Ed from two years ago. He was lively, he was energetic. It’s been seven months since he had any basketball live action. He hasn’t had any contact; today was his first contact since February. It was really good to see him out there. I was happy for him.”
Added point guard Damian Lillard: “You just feel Ed’s presence: on the offensive glass, attacking the rim, him contesting shots around the rim. More than anything, you hear him out there talking. On defense, he’s in constant communication; he’s active, he’s talking’ trash.
“When Ed is on the court, you know Ed is on the court.”
If the 2017-18 Trail Blazers are to be the ‘Bad Boys’ on the defensive end that center Jusuf Nurkić hopes his team can be, Davis will likely be large part of that identity. With 481 games under his belt over seven NBA seasons, Davis is one of the elder statesman on the Blazers roster and knows what it takes to be a defensive force in the league.
“Ed certainly has a defensive component: he has length, he has quickness, he has good timing,” Stotts said. “His strength is being a good defender, a team defender. He’s smart, he talks. He’s been in the league, he has experience.
“One of the things I’ve contended for a long time is that the best defensive teams in the league usually have experience in the league, and Ed has that experience.”