Ed Davis has a lot to learn. The rookie’s been solid for the Raptors so far averaging 6 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes. His defense has been better than average and as he learns the nuances of playing the NBA big position, the expectations are that he’ll improve to the point where he’ll be a true defensive force. Here’s a play from last night’s game which shows both the learning process a big has to go through, and the low communication level in the Raptors 29th ranked defense.

Davis’ man is about to set a screen for Iguodala. Davis is in a position where he has plenty of time to get ahead of Iguodala and block his path to the lane.

As this frame shows, he’s late in reacting and finds himself too removed from both Thaddeus Young and Iguodala. He is in classic no-man’s land, at best any attempts at recovery will take him to Iggy’s hip which does him no good. Davis’ play has meant that Bargnani, our worst help-defender, will now be put in a position to defend the dynamic Iguodala.

Bargnani has left his man, Davis is on Iggy’s hip, and Bargnani’s man is wide open. Nobody is rotating to cover Bargnani’s, not even Jose Calderon who is ball-watching.

A simple alley-oop finishes the play off.

The bottom line is that this was a very defendable play which the Raptors couldn’t cope with. In this case the mistake was made by Davis, but this is just one of many plays that the Raptors make small mistakes in, and then don’t make up for those mistakes by doing other things (Calderon rotation or Bargnani/Davis communication once Iggy had the defense in a vulnerable position).

Great defensive teams do the little things right, and what I’ve tried to show in this post is a little thing. You may have different takes on what should have happened on the play, and who is to blame, but that’s well and truly besides the point because the larger issue is the overall defensive awareness/communication on this roster.

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