Las Vegas • Brandon Davies has been aggressive this week.
And that might be putting it mildly.
The former BYU big man has been shooting the ball or making a move in the post practically every time he’s gotten a touch. He’s been taking mid-range jumpers. He’s launched from the perimeter, anything to show the Philadelphia 76ers that he’s added to his game over the offseason.
There’s been one glaring problem with this approach. Davies didn’t make the NBA by being a scorer. He got into the league by being a hustle guy, a scrapper, someone who throws himself at loose balls and does the little things to help teams out.
Because of this, his Las Vegas summer league has been a bit of a disappointment. Yes, he’s been good. But his eagerness to prove himself has gotten him into trouble, at times.
“I feel like I’d been trying to do too much,” Davies said. “I wasn’t doing the things that got me this far in the first place. But I’ve realized that, and the goal is to just keep getting better as the week has gone on.”
It’s been a long ride for Davies, a familiar name to locals for nearly a decade now. He was one of Utah’s best high school players at Provo, leading Craig Drury’s program to state titles. He continued across the street at BYU, and ascended to being one of the best power forwards on the west coast.
His journey through the professional ranks has been one long fight to make — and stay in — the NBA. He lasted a year with the Sixers, but has a non-guaranteed contract for the upcoming season. Not knowing the future can bring anxiety out of even the best of players, and Davies has been no exception.
Perhaps that’s why he has pressed this week. He’s missed easy shots and turned the ball over. But he got back to basics in Wednesday night’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers. So much so that Philly summer league coach Chad Iske was full of praise when speaking to the media.
“Tonight was the first time we saw the Brandon Davies that we know from the regular season,” Iske said. “When he plays like he did tonight, he really helps this team win. He played tough defense, he made winning plays. We were impressed with what he got done out there.”
One could look at a stat sheet from the Sixers’ 85-63 win over the Lakers and wonder what Iske was talking about. Davies had three points, a single rebound and turned the ball over four times.
But Davies did things that can’t be measured in the box score. He played tough defense on Los Angeles lottery pick Julius Randle. He kept Philly’s interior difficult to score on — even without Nerlens Noel playing.
Afterwards, a look at Davies revealed a cut under his left eye. He trudged slowly towards the team bus, knowing that he would have to do it all over again on Thursday. He had a thick bag of ice over each knee.
And this is what the Sixers want from Davies. They want him to leave it all on the floor, to expend every ounce of energy he has. They have enough guys who can score. They want the guys who clean it all up.
“It’s a fight every night,” Davies said. “I know that I’m not guaranteed, and I know that I have to show up and give it my all in every game. I’m fighting to stay in the NBA, so I have to approach every game that way.”
About Brandon Davies
O Scored a summer league-high 10 points against Cleveland.
• Has started for the Sixers at power forward.
• Played for Philadelphia last season.
• Is a former all-WCC pick at BYU.