Terence Davis reflects on his decision to go undrafted and sign with the Raptors

William Lou
NBA reporter

Terence Davis had chances to be picked in the second round of the 2019 NBA draft, but he declined lowball offers and went undrafted.

He chose to bet on himself, much like his teammate and veteran mentor Fred VanVleet, and it paid off. Davis attended Summer League with the Denver Nuggets, and following his 22-point debut, the Raptors immediately swooped in with a two-year deal. Davis has since gone on to feature as a rotation piece for the defending champions, who hold the third-best record in the league at the time of the COVID-19 shutdown.

“The decision I made was definitely the right decision, no doubt about that. Look how things turned out. I played in every game this season, not knowing that I would play in every game this season,” Davis said during a conference call with reporters this week.

“I thought I would be in the G-League for at least half of the season, and come first game of the season, I’m playing 16 minutes on opening night. Man, it happened so fast.”

It was clear from the start that Davis could play. He was a bit hyperactive and error-prone, especially on the defensive end, but his ability was clear and he took his opportunities when they came. When Kyle Lowry suffered an injury early in the season, Davis stepped up as a reserve and had his first breakout game against the Los Angeles Lakers where he nailed three triples in a thrilling upset on the road.

A few nights later, he posted 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a home win over Orlando, and Davis continued to build from there. Davis notched a 23-point, 11-rebound effort in an overtime win against the Charlotte Hornets, where he also shut down Terry Rozier on the final play. A month later, he became one of seven Raptors players this season to top 30 points as he posted a career-high 31 on just 15 shot attempts against the Chicago Bulls during the Raptors’ 15-game win streak.

Again, similar to VanVleet who also went undrafted, the signing was an incredible move by the Raptors. Davis told Yahoo Sports Canada last September that he was initially being offered two-way deals by teams with second-round picks. Those deals would have kept Davis on the fringe of the NBA, without an actual guarantee of playing time or an income anywhere close to a full-time NBA contract. He knew his worth to be more than that, and took a gamble. Toronto answered the call.

The next step for Davis is to earn his keep, which is never easy for a rookie on a championship team. Davis did appear in all 64 games for the Raptors this season, but his minutes fluctuated wildly because he was the ninth man on the rare occasions when everyone was healthy. It didn’t help that Davis would sometimes enter games unfocused, leading head coach Nick Nurse to cut his minutes in the second half. Davis hopes to change that, and to feature as a key piece of the upcoming playoff run whenever the season returns.

“During this whole shutdown, I just really had time to reflect on some of the things I’ve covered and some of the things that’s to come, like the playoffs. I really want to take advantage of the playoffs. I really want the veteran guys to be able to trust someone like me me during the playoffs,” Davis said.

“That’s why I’m in the gym right now, that’s why I’ve been in the gym everyday at 12 o’clock getting weights in. I want to be able to be in the best shape, I just want to be able to be trusted, so these guys can trust me. I want to show these guys that I’m ready, I’m ready to be a really big part of these guys.”

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