You won't find many people celebrating Brandon Davies, a 2013 undrafted free agent that signed with the Sixers and went onto be one of just six players who made it through the entire season with the team. And despite the fact that I tweet things like this for fun, I get it. He's not exceptional in any area right now, and he doesn't have the athleticism to project a future skill set currently unseen. His only favorable statistic is free throw rate.
But I'm making the case for him to stick on this team for at least another season for reasons that aren't entirely sentimental.
In Orlando, Hollis Thompson and Casper Ware were the de facto court leaders as veterans on the team. Neither played in the Sixers-Jazz game on Saturday, so that job fell to the only SummerSixer with NBA experience, Davies. Simply, he tried to do too much. In no professional league should Davies be operating in isolation. He's thick, so he can use his girth to get into the defender's chest, but he doesn't have the jumper yet to take advantage of that created space. A few nice plays were nearly made, but it was rough -- 2-8 shooting for 4 points and 2 rebounds with 7 summerfouls.
After the game, I was the predictably lone media member to request his availability in the tunnel -- maybe the only media member to ever do so. Dude knew he struggled (and so did MCW, who tapped him encouragingly on the back of the head as he walked by) when I asked him how felt like he played.
"I felt... I mean, we won, so I gotta feel good about that. It wasn't pretty, but it's not always pretty. I worked this offseason trying to be more solid. I know you couldn't really tell by how I played tonight, but the first game jitters are gone, so I expect to play better in games coming up."
Davies is aware of his limitations. Though he's been working on his jumper and believes in it out to the three-point line, he's not going to try to be something he's not. I asked him why he felt like he was part of the 6 out of 28 roster players who hung around playing the whole year.
"I was just one of those guys who knew my role and stayed within my boundaries and made sure I brought it every day. Made sure I was positive every day. I must've been doing something right, so I just gotta continue to do that."
The 2013-14 season was a yearlong audition. Things have advanced a bit coming into Year Two of the Grand Rebuild. Roster spaces will not be as easy to come by. Darius Johnson-Odom isn't walking through that door. James Anderson has already been bid adieu.
The Sixers are trying to find that superstar -- everybody knows that's the top priority. A little further down the list is building a culture. Not some hackneyed idea of a "winning" culture in which 42-40 seasons qualify, but a culture that enforces good workout habits, going 100% in practice, and just generally buying into the system. Brandon spent most of the offseason in Philly, working out with coaches and banging in the post with Nerlens Noel. He's a high character guy and it's clear the Sixers appreciate that.
There are 15 spots. The 15th guy, no matter if it's Ronald Roberts or Sean Kilpatrick or Khalif Wyatt or Davies, isn't going to be that superstar. Go for broke with the other fourteen. Upside will be and should be king. But it doesn't hurt to have one guy on the roster who tries really, really hard. Like obnoxiously hard. Fruitlessly hard, even. The work ethic and desire are there, even if all of the skills aren't.
I hope Davies keeps hanging on this season, selfishly, as well as practically. A guy that knows his role (and shuts his mouth, sorry) are more useful than they seem if you only look at the 82 games. But if Nerlens is comfortable practicing with Davies and MCW likes touching the back of his head and the coaches can look to him to set the tone for getting after it in the weight room, then that's more valuable than going upside on a 15th man who doesn't help establish the continuity and culture the Sixers coaching staff is looking for.
Davies hitting a few shots this week in Vegas would help both our causes.