TORONTO — Terence Davis was enjoying a rookie campaign well beyond his own expectations. After going undrafted, Davis felt feeling lucky just to be with the Toronto Raptors when they opened the season, and figured he’d spend much of the year in the G League with Raptors 905.
But by the time COVID-19 shut down the NBA on March 11, the athletic rookie had played in all 64 games for the Raptors, and had fans loudly irate that he wasn’t selected for the rookie-sophomore game at all-star weekend.
If the NBA can’t salvage the remainder of the season, Davis said he won’t be sad for the illustrious complete rookie year that could have been. What’s really got him down is the prospect of no thrilling post-season run.
“I wouldn’t feel cheated because there was other rookies that were having great years, better years than I’m having. It wouldn’t be fair to them either,” Davis said on a conference call Wednesday — seven weeks ago to the day that the league shut down.
“I wouldn’t be devastated, but I would be a little hurt because you always want to finish what you start. A lot of people didn’t think we would be in the playoffs, and we ended up being No. 2 team in the East, we already had clinched our playoff berth. So that right there, that’s the only thing that I would be devastated by, not playing in the playoffs.”
Despite a revolving door of injuries to key players this season, the Raptors were 46-18 and had just clinched a playoff berth when Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, and the league was suspended hours later.
Because the Raptors had played in Utah a couple of days earlier, Toronto players and staff went into a 14-day quarantine. Davis said he and fellow rookie Dewan Hernandez flew to Florida shortly after their quarantine because Hernandez had access to a gym there.
Davis, who’d been averaging 7.7 points a night on 46.3 per cent shooting, is now back home in Southaven, Miss., enjoying being with his son, who’s almost 11 months old. He has access to a private gym and trainer there.
The down time has had him reflecting on a rookie season that, even without the dream ending of a post-season appearance, was far better than he could have envisioned.
Like Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, the 22-year-old Davis bet on himself on NBA draft night, turning down some late offers, preferring to try his luck landing a deal during summer league. His gamble paid off big-time.
“Yes sir! I would say that the decision I made was definitely the right decision, because look at how things turned out. Come first game of the year I’m playing 15 minutes opening night. Like, man, it happened it so fast,” said Davis, who added that much of what he learned this season was “on the fly” during games.
“During this whole COVID-19 shutdown, I’ve just really had a lot of time to reflect on things, some of the things I’ve accomplished and some of the things that are yet to come like the playoffs. I’m a rookie, so obviously I don’t know what’s to come in the playoffs, but I want Fred, I want Kyle (Lowry) . . . to be able to trust me when I get in the game in the playoffs. If I get in the game during the playoffs.
“So that’s why I’m in the gym right now, that’s why I’ve been in the gym everyday getting weights in. I want to be in the best shape and I just want to be able to be trusted.”
The NBA is considering reopening some team practice facilities as of May 8 — at the earliest — under strict rules. Players returning to their home-team markets would have to quarantine before being allowed back in the city, so the Raptors, most of whom aren’t in Toronto, would have to fly back to Canada and go into isolation for two weeks.
Lori Ewing , The Canadian Press