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WHAT WE EXPECT: Why Ed Davis could be a great fit in Nets front court

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As Nets sign free agents, we will take a look at how they can fit in with the Nets. Bryan Fonseca takes a look at Ed Davis

Portland Trail Blazers v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The signing of Ed Davis appears to be another Sean Marks steal-of-a-deal, even more than the new two-year, $16 million contract Joe Harris agreed to one hour earlier. NBA Twittersphere seemed to agree…

The just-turned-29 Davis will provide much-needed help for a Net frontcourt who was routinely decimated by opposing bigs last season.

Brooklyn utilized undersized stretch 4’s Quincy Acy and Dante Cunningham as stretch 4’s —and even 5’s— with regularity last season and paid for it on a nearly nightly basis. With developing rookie Jarrett Allen often overmatched and veterans like Tyler Zeller and Timofey Mozgov filling in, more than one NBA big had a career night against the Nets. Dwight Howard had a 32-and-30 game; Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon had 41 points, both career highs, early in the season. They were among five 40-point games by Nets opponents.

How bad was Brooklyn’s interior defense last season? Very bad. We supplied the numbers last month.

In their 28-54 season, the Nets were outrebounded 44 times in 82 games – however, in those 44 games, they won only 25% of the time, putting forth a record of 11-33, and were dominated (by 10 or more boards) on 16 separate occasions. And even in games where they won the rebounding battle tied their opponents on the boards, they were only 17-19.

Opposing players managed to grab 10 or more boards against the Nets 92 different times during the course of the season. On 40 separate occasions, the Nets allowed opposing bigs to score 20 or more points on their frontline, with 27 going for 20 and at least 10 boards. That does not include a pair of high scoring (30 and 26 points, respectively) games from Kristaps Porzingis, because they both ended at nine pulldowns, nor does it include a 19-point, 18-rebound game from John Henson on February 4.

So here’s where Davis comes into play.

Listed at 6’10”, 240-pounds, Davis becomes the biggest Net on the team’s roster not named Jarrett Allen (or Howard, whom the Nets have not yet officially bought out.)

For his career, Davis has averaged 6.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in about 20 minutes per contest, which averages out to 11.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes. Davis’ best rebounding season of 2017-18 may have been a sizeable jump forward, but the 2010 first round draft pick consistently averaged between 9.8 and 11.7 boards per 36 through 2017, with an exception coming in 2015-16, where Davis grabbed 12.8 boards over the same metric in his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Last season alone, Davis posted 5.3 points and 7.4 rebounds on a nightly basis, while logging 18.9 minutes in 78 games, all off the bench.

For his eight-year career, which includes a season with Jeremy Lin on the Lakers in 2014-15, Davis has shot 56.4% from the floor, and only attempted two 3-pointers. Not hard to see what he is offensively.

Then, there’s the character issue.

Davis really carved out an NBA home in Portland, where he spent the last three seasons (two alongside Allen Crabbe) before arriving to Brooklyn. One thing he loved about the Blazer organization was their “player first” method of business. So, he should feel at home in Brooklyn.

“It’s a first class ‘players first’ organization,” Davis said regarding what he enjoyed about Portland during his exit interview from this past spring. “A lot of organizations say that but, they really stand by that here (in Portland). I respect and appreciate that.”

He reiterated throughout that he didn’t know whether or not he’d be back in Portland, but wanted to return.

A veteran in the NBA, still 11 months away from his 30th birthday, Davis is in his prime and playing for his next —and maybe— final contract. There’s plenty of motivation for Davis.

Needless to say, this should also have a positive effect on the young Allen, who won’t turn 21 until the end of the upcoming season. Will they work together at all? Allen is working on his 3-point shooting this summer and showed he can make them, going 5-of-15 from deep... and hitting nearly 80 percent of his free throws. Kenny Atkinson has said that on the Nets, the 4 and 5 are interchangeable, so maybe Allen moves out to the perimeter —on occasion— and leaves Davis underneath where he is expert at the put back.

But Davis’ job will mainly be at the other end of the court, protecting the rim, grabbing some boards — and making sure the Nets aren’t embarrassed any more.