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College, NBA Draft / Jun 7, 2010 / 2:15 pm

Who will be The Next Big Baby?

Clemson's Trevor Booker

If Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo got the gold and silver medals from last night’s Celtics win, Big Baby Davis deserves the bronze.

The eight points on 4-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds hardly tells the whole story of how Davis impacted Game 2. When Boston’s offense began to struggle in the second half and the Lakers turned what had been a blowout into a nip-and-tuck ballgame, Big Baby was the sparkplug that kept Boston competitive until Rondo took over down the stretch. With Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace in foul trouble and Kevin Garnett playing like Kevin James, Big Baby battled L.A.’s seven-footers in the paint. He dove on the floor for loose balls. He grabbed big offensive rebounds. Ray and Rondo got the headlines, but Boston would be down 0-2 right now were it not for Big Baby’s effort.

In the five years I’ve been writing for Dime, I’ve probably said it 200 times: Every NBA team needs a guy like Big Baby, a rugged frontcourt grizzly bear who busts his ass every night, who makes a living by hitting the glass, getting tough buckets inside, setting solid screens, playing good defense, and taking out the first two rows of courtside seats if it means securing a key possession. Sometimes these guys are starters, sometimes they’re backups. Sometimes they’re centers, sometimes they’re power forwards. And almost always, they were picked several spots too late in the NBA Draft — because they’re “undersized” for their position, or don’t have a smoothness to their game, or don’t have as much tantalizing potential as a 6-9 small forward who runs like a thoroughbred.

So while the Julian Wrights and Earl Clarks of the League ride the pine, that’s how you get a Big Baby Davis (2nd round, 35th pick), a DeJuan Blair (2nd round, 37th pick), a Carl Landry (2nd round, 31st pick), a Paul Millsap (2nd round, 47th pick), a Leon Powe (2nd round, 49th pick), a David Lee (1st round, 30th pick), a Brandon Bass (2nd round, 33rd pick), a Udonis Haslem (undrafted), a Ben Wallace (undrafted).

I’m not counting international players, e.g. Luis Scola or Anderson Varejao. I understand the unfamiliarity factor with guys from overseas that allows them to often slip down the draft board. But with NCAA talent like that listed above — often players who shined at major-conference schools and stuck around longer than a one-and-done mystery — what is the excuse for NBA scouts continually missing the boat?

Who will be the undersized big man to breakout from this year’s Draft class? Who will be the next Big Baby?

My pick is Clemson’s Trevor Booker. At 6-foot-7 and 236 pounds with a wingspan slightly under 6-10, the senior power forward fits the “undersized” bill. NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com each have him projected as a second-rounder, despite plenty of evidence on the table that says he’s more likely to succeed as a pro more than some of the projected first-rounders.

At the Chicago pre-draft combine, Booker registered a 36-inch vertical and bench pressed 185 pounds 22 times, tied for second-best among all prospects. So we know he’s strong and he can jump, which can make up for a lack of height and reach. And playing in Clemson’s up-tempo full-court pressure system, we know Booker is well-conditioned and athletic enough to handle the speed of the NBA.

Booker is an energy player, much like Blair and Davis and Millsap. He averaged 15.2 points and 8.4 rebounds this season, and in his one meeting with North Carolina sophomore Ed Davis, a potential Top-10 pick, Booker posted 21 points and nine boards next to Davis’ four points and four boards.

But on NBA Draft night, I guarantee Davis will hear his name called at least 20-25 spots ahead of Booker. And although some people might think I’m a North Carolina hater (not true), I’m not picking on Davis or saying he’s a bust in the making. Booker will also be drafted well after first-round freshmen projects like Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside and Kentucky’s Daniel Orton. Aside from height and potential, though, what have they done to show they’ll be better on the NBA level than Booker? Whiteside led the NCAA in blocks (5.4 bpg), but did it against Conference-USA competition. Orton didn’t even start at UK.

And if it’s not Booker who becomes the 2010 poster athlete for “The Draft Is An Inexact Science,” it’ll be Miami’s Dwayne Collins, Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado, Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, UTEP’s Derrick Caracter, or Louisville’s Samardo Samuels.

All imperfect frontcourt prospects, all productive in college, all hiding in plain sight on Draft night. And in a year or two, one of them will emerge as one team’s Draft-night steal, and everyone else’s Draft-night regret.

-Follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinBurton206
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  • ballin

    Austin, are you kidding me? Big Baby positively sucked last night. Par for the course for him, you could say. I’m a Celtics fan, but I absolutely hate Big Baby since he’s so terrible at finishing around the basket. It would be laughable if he didn’t kill our team while getting his shot blocked nearly 20% of the time (that’s a fact, he led the league in % of shots blocked) and when he’s not getting his shot blocked he’s just straight up missing layups. He’s undersized and couldn’t defend a chair, yet somehow Doc Rivers occasionally puts him on Pau Gasol. I’ll admit he’s actually a decent matchup against Lamar due to his quick footspeed, but anybody taller than that he should just lie down on the floor.

    Not to mention, his jumper is ugly, and though he takes a lot of completely undefended jump shots, they don’t go in as often as they should. His reputation as a jump shooter exceeds his ability. Frankly, as bad as Rasheed sometimes plays, I’d rather have Rasheed in the game over Davis. Frankly I think that Davis brings nothing to the table.

  • control

    Wow, you are going to put this fat fuck into company like “DeJuan Blair (2nd round, 37th pick), a Carl Landry (2nd round, 31st pick), a Paul Millsap (2nd round, 47th pick), a Leon Powe (2nd round, 49th pick), a David Lee”?

    When you ask about the next Big Baby, are you talking about which guy will get concussed retarded in an NBA game and stumble around like an idiot for a few minutes? The guy has two highlights in his entire life, one in which he lucks a shot in and steamrolls a poor innocent kid. The other where he is knocked the fuck out and then stumbles around.

  • ballin

    Oh and by the way, we all know PER can be a bunch of shit but basically it’s just a combination of all categories of a player’s statistical production. So instead of going on and on about how Baby’s FG% is low for his position, how he’s a foul machine, how he can’t get any blocks, etc. etc. etc., I’ll just say this:

    Big Baby’s PER for the last 3 years:
    11.3
    10.7
    11.5

    The average for the league is 15. I’m not even going to waste my time looking up the PER of players like millsap, landry, and David Lee. It blows that shit out of the water.

    Glen. Davis. Sucks.

  • sh!tfaced

    For every Big Baby there is a Sean May…

  • The Other Aj

    You guys aren’t getting what he’s saying in the article…Big Baby (6’9″) was down there battling 7 footers last night. He hustles and plays D…

  • control

    The Other Aj

    Glenn Davis is maybe 6’9 wide, but he’s only about 6’6 tall…look at his fat ass when he’s standing near guys who are listed correctly.

  • jimmyjack

    If you don’t see how Big Baby helped the Celtics win that game, you don’t know basketball.

    Those saying he sucks are just haters. Dude got one NBA ring as a contributer and could end up with a second ring a couple weeks from now. He’s the Celtics best big man off the bench — Sheed hasn’t done shit all year — and does stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.

    The article is right, dudes like Big Baby get passed up every year, then wind up doing work as starters or 6th men. Yeah you have guys like Sean May who don’t pan out, but I could list 100 athletic SG’s and SF’s who go in the Lottery who don’t pan out.

  • Joe’s Momma

    jimmyjack,

    Davis was not a contributor on the title winning team, he rode the pine the entire time. Leon Powe and PJ Brown were the bigs off the bench. Last year filling in the KG his did his share, but no ring.

    Now, Davis did contribute to the win last night. His hustle was big, and he deserves a little credit, just not an entire article named “the next big baby”

    This guy in not in Milsap, or Landry territory. But he is more skilled than I thought coming out of LSU. Who would have thought at this time, he would have a better career out of him and his hommie Ty Thomas. NOT ME

  • bub

    People act like just because hes undersized he cant play. I do believe he blocked Bynum pretty cleanly last night. I do believe he was working his ass off to grab offensive rebounds that shouldn’t of even been theirs neways. I think a lot of the comments aren’t students of the game of basketball. Those rebounds and tough plays are intangibles that the combines, scouting, and some fans cant always accurately assess. You can teach a player how to use his body in the post, but you can’t teach him how to have tremendous effort on the court.

  • kevin k

    lemme just start by saying I hate the Celtics. I truly despise them. BUT you haters hating on Big Baby seriously dont know shit about basketball. I bet you guys are those scrubs at a local gym who think their hot shit and jacks up 3s after 3s.

    Big Baby got heart. He got killed by Dwight’s elbow but tried to get back up while he got concussed… i wonder how many athletes would do that. yea it looked goofy, and big baby looks goofy but you can’t deny the impact he brings to the games.

    yea he shot what 4/13? but he did so many shit that wont show up on the stat sheet. His the one who battled and tiped the ball for Ray Allen’s 8th 3…

    quit hating scrubs

  • kevin k

    lemme just start by saying I hate the Celtics. I truly despise them. BUT you haters hating on Big Baby seriously dont know shit about basketball. I bet you guys are those scrubs at a local gym who think their hot shit and jacks up 3s after 3s.

    Big Baby got heart. He got killed by Dwight’s elbow but tried to get back up while he got concussed… i wonder how many athletes would do that. yea it looked goofy, and big baby looks goofy but you can’t deny the impact he brings to the games.

    yea he shot what 4/13? but he did so many shit that wont show up on the stat sheet. His the one who battled and tiped the ball for Ray Allen’s 8th 3…

    quit hating scrubs

  • kaanon

    The thought crossed my mind last night that Big Baby might be one of my new favorite players.

  • hoopla

    It’s funny how someone could log on here a criticize someone who’s in the league playing a finals game. Most of us dream of even drinking the nba gaterade. Big Baby did what he needed to help the team win. Big Baby definately didn’t suck as much as KG.

    That block on bynum was barkley like. Should’ve been a jump ball at the least. No foul should’ve been called.

  • alf (from melmak)

    Thanks Dime. :)

  • BUDZ

    wow! big baby haters!

    hate all you can but the fact is big baby is trusted by his team to play. he is on the regular rotation. he plays in some of the important parts of the game. and that says it all. he is TRUSTED by the C’s night in and night out and he rarely fails and is a fan favorite.

    can you say that about the earl clarks of the world? big all world athletes who are drafted too high but are rarely used because they have no heart, no hustle like big baby.

    haters. shut up.

  • http://luckylester.com luckylester

    big baby does nothing pretty but he helps the celtics win. that’s easily seen by anybody with any basketball sense. as for booker, he also posted one of the best 3/4 court sprints during the combine.

  • ballin

    I love it when idiots say something like “He’s undersized, but he plays hard and hustles!”

    If playing hard and hustling could overcome a lack of size, then I’d be in the damn NBA for sure. I’m sorry, but if you’re put on the court to guard a position and you’re too short to do it, and too slow to guard a smaller position, then you’re a defensive liability. period.

    Some people can actually do it. Chuck Hayes is an extremely short but extremely good defender at the center position. But Glen Davis is not one of those players. And “if you knew shit about basketball” you’d recognize that.

    Not only is he a defensive liability, he’s an offensive liability since he can’t score within 5 feet of the basket.

    He’s a chump that doesn’t nothing well

  • T.O.M.

    First off trev is better that glen Davis especially offensively he is going to be a steal. He got a little Barkley in his game if he can have a consistent jump shop shoot like 35% from three watch out. Him with a good point guard watch out. Pick and roll all day. He hustles every play rebounds good. He gonna start one day a better Anthony Mason also undersized power forward

  • http://thetatteredpages.com Ashley

    Texas seems to be playing their hand close the their chest right now. The remaining Big 12 South schools will go wherever they go (except A&M might join SEC) and poor Baylor is shut out in the cold. For their sakes (and Iowa State in the North) I hope Texas decides to remain a big 12 member