Davis must do more than just score

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 14, 2007 - 9:40 PM

With Kevin Garnett gone, the guard might be tempted to pump up KG's share of shots as well as his own, but the Wolves need him to be a passer and a leader, too.

Reality intruded upon theory from the start of the Timberwolves' preseason game against Boston last week, when the completely refitted team's offense lagged behind its defense and guard Ricky Davis stepped forth from the footlights to offer a one-man performance in London's East End.

Davis is entering the final season of his contract on a team plump with youth and lacking Kevin Garnett's 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists every night.

It's a combination of circumstances in which Davis possibly could see only dollar signs and the rim this season despite Wolves coach Randy Wittman saying he needs his team's most proven scoring option to do more than score.

"Ricky can score, I know that," Wittman said. "Ricky has to trust and let me put him in positions to score because he has the ability through his passing and his seeing the floor to be more than just a scorer. He led us in assists I don't know how many times last season [32], and that's the thing we'll miss with KG gone.

"Now, I need to see that more out of him, where he's not just consumed by the basket. He showed me in my 40 games [as interim coach last season] that he'll draw the defense to him and he'll get you an easy shot elsewhere. He can do that."

The Wolves last week stayed within sight of Garnett and the Celtics only when Davis scored 16 of the Wolves' 22 first-quarter points.

"That's what you're going to see, me coming out and taking charge," Davis said. "I'm going to score points no matter what they [opponents] do. That's just what I do. Contractwise? I don't think about that. You start thinking about that stuff and you go downhill.

"I do think: You've got 25 points a game missing, you've got 13 rebounds missing, you've got five assists missing [after the Garnett trade]. Somebody has to make those up somewhere."

Davis could be trade bait

The Wolves' abundance of small forwards and big guards, their obvious commitment to youth and Davis' value as a proven scorer and his expiring $6.8 million contract all make him likely to be traded by February's deadline. At age 28, Davis, who left Iowa for the NBA after his freshman season, is playing for his fifth NBA team.

"I don't know," Davis said when asked if he expects to be with the Wolves at season's end. "I'll wait and see what happens. Kevin Garnett got traded. It happens. Every day, every year someone gets traded. It's the nature of the business. I'll just leave what I've got on the court every night."

Wittman said he has no concerns about that.

"Ricky Davis is a competitor," Wittman said. "He's going to compete. I don't have to worry about him when he crosses the line. He's going to play hard. Those are the things you want from your older guys. They set the tone, they tell the young guys that this is how we do it."

Wolves pups are watching

Already, Wolves rookie Corey Brewer has watched Davis' game and made notes.

"I'd love to develop an offensive game like his," Brewer said. "The things he does -- a lot of pump fakes, the way he comes off screens -- shows you what it takes to be in this league for a long time. He can put it on the floor. He shoots the three. He has a great midrange game. I've got to get a midrange game like that. You've got to be able to stop and pop. He does that really well."

Enigmatic and emotional, Davis was suspended by the team for a game last season when he walked off the floor after he was taken out of a game against Detroit at Target Center. This season, he is one of a handful of veterans on a team that has eight players 25 years old or younger.

"I've always been a leader," said Davis, who might play some point guard tonight at Memphis because Randy Foye and Sebastian Telfair are nursing injuries. "Even when I was a young guy I tried to be a leader."

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