Glen Davis Showing His Desire to Take Game to Next Level With Strong Preseason

If you’re one of the few people on planet Earth bored enough to spend your evening looking over Celtics preseason stats through three games, you might happen upon an interesting statistical oddity: The C’s leading scorer this week wasn’t Paul Pierce, it wasn’t Ray Allen and it wasn’t Kevin Garnett.

No, it was Glen Davis, who exploded for 20 points in the Celtics’ win over the Nets on Thursday night and is now averaging 12.0 points per contest thus far. The solid opening week raises the possibility that at age 24, Davis is due for a solid breakout season in Boston.

One thing’s for sure: Big Baby isn’t the same guy he was three years ago when he came into the league as a second-round draft pick. He’s better.

“Way better,” Davis said Monday. “Immensely better. I feel like I’m a whole different player now than I used to be. When I first got here, at the beginning of my career, I was in a different realm as far as team, role. You don’t want to be in just one role — you want to be a more versatile player.”

Davis has seen all kinds of roles over his first three years. He’s been the jump-shooting forward that spaces the floor for past scoring bigs like P.J. Brown and Leon Powe. He’s been the low-post scorer the team sorely needed, going down low and letting forwards like Garnett and Rasheed Wallace play the perimeter game. He’s given the team whatever it needs — rebounding, defense, energy off the bench when it matters most. Things have gotten rocky with Baby from time to time, but he’s emerged as exactly the glue guy the Celtics need on their second unit.

If you don’t believe in evolution, you’re clearly not watching Big Baby.

“I’m going into my fourth year,” he said. “You go into your rookie year, and you have no clue what you’re doing. You go into your second year, you have a little bit of an understanding of what you’re doing. You go into your third year, and you kind of know what you’re doing.

“But you go into your fourth year, and you know what you’re doing.”

Here’s what Glen Davis knows. He knows that in year four, he’s a vital piece of a second unit that might be the Doc Rivers‘ best yet. Alongside Nate Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the C’s bench role players, he’s expected to be a sparkplug for a squad that needs depth to compete for a championship.

And as luck would have it, this is the perfect time for Davis to step up. He’s in another contract year, playing out the second season of the two-year, $5 million contract extension he signed last summer. It’s time for him to prove his worth.

“If you look at every contract, look at every rookie scale, it’s four years,” Davis said. “Then you hit another level, and you become the player I am now. You really know what you can do in this game. Me as a player, I’ve grown tremendously with the help of Doc, and being around a lot of veterans. I’ve come to understand the game more. Being on this team for four years, with the same coach, has most definitely helped me.”

So far, this fourth season has been golden for Davis. He’s emerged a go-to scorer all over the floor, whether he’s on the block or around the perimeter. Wherever he goes, he makes things happen.

When he was a youngster, he adapted his game to fit the guys around him. But at this point, Big Baby has learned to create for himself.

At least that’s what we’ve seen through three games.

“I hope the rest of the year goes like this,” he said. “That would be great. Hopefully I’ll be a 90 percent free-throw shooter.”

Well, close enough. Davis is 20-for-24 from the line, or 83.3 percent. In year four, he’s mastering his scoring touch; math comes in year five.

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