Sometimes, the value of a player can’t be measured by metrics or statistics.
On the Trail Blazers, perhaps nobody exemplifies that better than Ed Davis.
Davis, you see, is not only a ferocious rebounder, intimidating defender and savvy veteran, he is also the team’s champion trash talker.
“You guys have to listen to him,’’ Maurice Harkless said. “He talks all day long in practice. It’s just …’’
Harkless started laughing before finishing his sentence.
Davis’ presence in the team’s training camp – which comes after he missed the final two months of last season because of left shoulder surgery -- has been noticeable. Both visually and audibly.
“Ed,’’ Al-Farouq Aminu said, smiling, “hasn’t missed a step on talkin’.’’
Perhaps that is why several players have said this training camp has carried an exceptional feel. Some players have noted that while the practices have been long, physical and grueling, the spirit has been fun, light-hearted and enjoyable.
And Davis, with his deadpan wit and quick-on-his-feet verbal jabs, might be the biggest reason.
“Players and coaches alike just enjoy having him out there,’’ coach Terry Stotts said.
Added Damian Lillard: “You know, practice is definitely different with Ed Davis as opposed to without Ed Davis. For me, Ed is like a big picker-upper.’’
So what is it about Davis that adds so much to the Blazers?
For starters, Evan Turner says, Davis is an old soul.
“He always says he hung out with older people, and he plays cards, so he probably picks it up at the card table,’’ Turner said. “But he’s definitely dope.’’
For Lillard, it’s not only what Davis says, but how he says it.
“It’s not loud or super aggressive, it’s just real slick. He’s a slick talker,’’ Lillard said. “If he block your shot, he’s saying something. If he guards you and you make a shot anyway, he’s like, ‘You are supposed to make that … good shot though’ then he shakes your hand.’’
CJ McCollum says that sometimes, it can be as simple as a look from Davis.
But usually, it’s something quick and clever. Last week, Davis barbed Harkless during a scrimmage. Harkless received a $500,000 bonus last season for shooting 35 percent from three-point range, which was achieved in part by not attempting a three-pointer in the final four games. During the scrimmage last week, Harkless sized up a three-pointer while Davis rushed at him with a hand up.
Harkless missed the shot, and Davis scored the dagger.
“He started walking away and said ‘Man, you gotta play the percentage: 35 on the head, 35 on the head,’’’ Harkless said, chuckling. “Stuff like that. It’s funny. He constantly talks.’’
Davis said he establishes parameters for his trash talking.
“I keep every PG, everything friendly, man. No disrespect,’’ Davis said. “Just out there having fun, that’s it. But honestly, I do it for myself. It helps me get going during practice … sometimes these practices are so long and you need something to get you going.’’
Of course, the Blazers and Davis hope his impact goes beyond keeping things light and witty in practice. Two seasons ago, before his shoulder injury, he averaged 6.5 points and 7.4 rebounds and was one of the most productive big men reserves in the NBA. His 599 rebounds was a franchise record for rebounds by a reserve.
This season, he is competing for the starting power forward job while also being a likely candidate to be Jusuf Nurkic’s backup at center.
“Just being back out there and getting timing right … It’s just fun for one,’’ Davis said. “When you are on injured reserve, you take things for granted, just being able to be at practice, laughing and joking on the sideline. It’s just not the same. Just being out there with the fellas is a good feeling.’’
The feeling is mutual.
“For me, it’s a lot of fun because he picked up the energy level of practice,’’ Lillard said. “The competitive level is just higher when he is out there.’’
Today: Fan Fest at Moda Center, 1 p.m. (Broadcast live on CSN)