Toronto Raptors rookie guard Terence Davis is yet another underrated player the organization has helped turn into a rotation cornerstone.
Last time we spoke to Davis was right after the G League Elite Camp, which helped earn him an invite to the NBA Combine. Despite performing so well in Chicago, he was not selected in the 2019 NBA draft. He then played one game for the Denver Nuggets during summer league in Las Vegas before he was eventually signed by the Toronto Raptors on a fully guaranteed deal.
“I told him it was going to be a rollercoaster, but to stay confident,” Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher told HoopsHype. “With a team like ours, there is always going to be someone playing before you so you have to wait your turn. But obviously, he has the talent and it showed.
“He can really shoot the ball. It’s not just catch-and-shoot. It’s off the dribble or off screens, which can really catch people off guard. He has such a good arc, the ball goes really high when he shoots it. He is athletic for the position he plays, he can get to the rim as well, which is impressive.”
HoopsHype caught up with Davis before the All-Star break to hear about his impressions of the league thus far.
One thing we spoke about before the draft is that you have always been an underdog. Especially after Kawhi Leonard left, this team embraces that mentality. I see you smiling thinking about it. How has that attitude helped you fit in on this team?
Terence Davis: If you think about it, we have a lot of players that were not picked high in the draft. We don’t have anyone who was a lottery pick. But these guys won a title last year and we want to prove it again. I just want to add on to that. I have the physicality just to grind and that is so much of what it really comes down to.
What would you describe as the most important thing that fans should know about you?
TD: I’m just happy to be in this situation. Like I said, I can’t complain about anything. My family is healthy. My son, he was born six days before the draft. He’s just been like a spark into my life from a motivation standpoint. He made draft night better for me. It helped me grow up, honestly. Being 20, 21, coming out of college, just turning 22 and then having a son. It helped me grow up, man, and become a young adult, think things through, really putting someone before me. because that’s what it’s all about. I have someone else to think about and it’s not just about me anymore. That helped me grow up into a young man. That helped me get in front of my family and tell them I wasn’t going to take a two-way deal. I’m not getting drafted. The grind, it’s not done here. It just helped me grow up, man. He helped me grow up. He’s really been a light into my life. I need that, man.
I’m curious what you have maybe picked up from your teammates – including someone like Chris Boucher, who also went undrafted but has since made a role for himself in this league?
TD: Just playing hard, man. Whatever circumstance there is, play through it. Stay ready whenever your time comes. When it does come, then you can just prove to people that they were wrong.
What have been your most noteworthy observations about playing in the NBA so far during your rookie season?
TD: Man, things happen fast. Offensively, defensively, the little things matter. There are a lot of things that I have picked up in such a short time. There is still a lot to learn, too, but mostly small things. Details on the defensive side of the ball. You have to be in your spots because guys come in quick.
Similarly, then, what have been some of the biggest surprises about the league?
TD: There are just bigger guys. It’s a whole different thing when you are going against guys in their 30s and they are facing me in my first year. They have been in the game for so much longer and know where they are always supposed to be on the court. The pace of the game is definitely way faster too with a 24-second shot clock. It is all about positioning and getting open and it is definitely different.
You have been such a stellar addition to Toronto, especially when you are shooting off the catch. How have you been able to fit into this offense for the Raptors so seamlessly?
TD: Well, we have a lot of amazing playmakers. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet and even Pascal Siakam can all get to the paint but if they don’t have their shot, they kick it out. When they make plays, it is easy for me to just sit out there and be ready. It is what I was working on all offseason, too. I really wanted to show teams that I can shoot the ball. This situation that I’m in right now in Toronto is just perfect for me as a catch-and-shoot guy.
Off the court, what are some of the things that you have liked about living in Toronto?
TD: The fans are amazing. When I first moved to Toronto, no one really knew who I was so I could go out and eat peacefully. But now it’s like, fans notice me and it is amazing. I try to interact with as many fans as I can. At the end of the day, I’m just a regular person. I’m a normal human being. I’m not higher than anyone else. These fans are human, too, so I want them to see what type of person I am. I’m a genuine guy. But there are a lot of things that I love about Toronto. There are so many places to eat. It’s unbelievable. The city is amazing. I’m in love with the city, honestly. I feel like I’m in such a great situation.
Had you left the United States before moving out to Canada during the offseason?
TD: Well, I went to Canada in 2018 during my senior season for an international tournament. We played in Ottawa and Montreal. That was my first time leaving the United States outside of going to the Virgin Islands but that is technically a part of the country.
How do you like living outside of the United States for the first time?
TD: It’s very cool. It’s cheaper in some ways. You can get you some nice drip over there for a fair amount. It’s cool, man. Especially where I’m from, being from the country part of the south and then just to move to a whole different country is amazing. I live in a building like 40 or 50 floors up with a lake view and a city view. I can’t complain about anything.
Speaking of which, what are some of the clothing brands that you like?
TD: I don’t discriminate. I’ll put on whatever. If it looks good, I’ll wear it. For basketball shoes, I don’t have a sneaker deal. But AND1 is sending me some stuff. Puma is in the mix. Obviously, Nike. I’m not really rushing anything. I like wearing whatever I want to so I’m cool with it. I’ll say that these AND1’s have been feeling pretty comfortable since I’ve started playing in them. So if they feel good, I’ll work them.
I have to ask: Living in Toronto, have you gotten that push from Drake yet?
TD: Nah, man. Not yet. I’ve met him, though. It was pretty cool. He was at the game and sitting courtside next to the bench. I dapped him up. Another game, it was the same type of deal. He definitely knows who I am. It’s tough, man. Growing up, listening to Drake, all his music, I don’t know what to say. It’s so cool.
What are some of your thoughts on your old teammate Breein Tyree at Ole Miss? How do you think he or anyone else at Ole Miss might fit in at the professional level?
TD: Man, Breein Tyree just went for 40 points the other night on our rival. So he is definitely ready. Devontae Shuler is another guy that I think can make the jump, too. I’m not sure if he will forego his senior season but he has a chance. They have some young guys out there that are going to be really great basketball players. I definitely keep my eyes on them. I always look forward to seeing them, too.
What is some advice that you have given them or will give them when it comes to making the jump to the pros?
TD: Stay true to yourself. Keep putting the work in. Don’t give up on the grind. The time will come. Remain confident in yourself. Keep the faith. Everything will work out and the work will prove itself.
Do you still play MyPark in NBA 2K or do you not really have time for that anymore?
TD: Nah, I don’t. I can’t until I get my face scanned, which I haven’t yet. It won’t feel right until that happens. I really haven’t played at all yet. I know that I told you I would, but something still doesn’t feel right. It’s not me.