With 51 NBA games under his belt, Brandon Davies is the wily old veteran in the Sixers’ practice gym at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. After all, Davies has appeared in 51 more NBA games than anyone else wearing the Sixers’ practice jersey.
But that doesn’t mean Davies is taking anything for granted as he prepares to go to Las Vegas with the Sixers’ second summer league squad. There is plenty to learn for the 6-foot-10 forward from Brigham Young, even after a season in the NBA.
“One thing I learned is to be an ‘everything guy’ -- making sure my effort was there every day,” he said. “Whether it was in practice or in a game. I just need to be the guy they can count on in both ends of the floor.”
Defense, however, is where the focus remains. In fact, Davies has been working on his defense ever since the season ended in April. Working out in the gym at PCOM, Davies has been able to test himself against the likes of Nerlens Noel and a few of the other players who work out with the Sixers.
Of course, defense has always been Davies’ calling card. Averaging two steals per 48 minutes in his first NBA season is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a big man.
“That’s what gets you on the floor,” Davies said after Tuesday’s practice session. “There aren’t too many guys who are willing to do it.”
However, shooting the ball is another matter. It’s one thing to stop the opposition from shooting, but when all the opponent has to do is let you shoot it in order to get the ball, it’s an issue.
Davies shot just 42.2 percent last season, with 54 field goals in his 51 games. He also shot just 64.2 percent from the foul line (34 for 53), which doesn’t bode well for a big man.
That’s just part of it, though. Davies went 34 for 59 (57.6 percent) on shots from the rim, and was slightly better than 50 percent on layups (25 for 49). But step away from the bucket and things didn’t go very well for Davies.
On shots longer than three feet, Davies went 20 for 69 (28.9 percent) in 2013-14, including 11 for 29 on shots between three and 10 feet. That means Davies was 9 for 40 on shots longer than 10 feet. With those numbers it’s a wonder Davies took 10 three-pointers.
Nevertheless, with the defensive work, Davies is also working on his shooting. He says he’s expanding his range a bit and working to be more consistent at knocking down open shots.
Assistant coach Chad Iske, who is the Sixers’ head coach for the Las Vegas Summer League, notices Davies putting in the work.
“He’s been great. Ever since he showed up here last year, he’s been one of the hardest workers -- one of the first guys into the gym and one of the last guys to leave,” Iske said. “His effort on the court is contagious, which is one of the things everybody loves about him. He makes others around him play harder with his effort [and] he’s brought all that to the camp and a leadership quality, too.”
But as they say in pro sports, “know thyself.” In that regard, Davies knows he’s in the NBA for his defense.
“For myself and the coaches it’s always about getting better defensively and stronger and faster,” Davies said.
And with a non-guaranteed contract worth $816,482 for next season, Davies could be a bargain as a defensive big man. And if Davies can add some shooting along with the defense, too, even better.