Austin Daye isn't the headline player in the three-team trade that sent Ed Davis, Tayshaun Prince and Daye to the Memphis Grizzlies, Jose Calderon to the Detroit Pistons and Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, but that doesn't mean he can't be valuable to Memphis down the line.
Daye never quite emerged as the heir-apparent to Prince after the Pistons selected him with the No. 15 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and the proof is that Detroit felt comfortable enough to trade Prince and Daye away in the same deal, to the same team.
The 24-year-old out of Gonzaga came into the league with the physical tools to become a versatile contributor on both ends of the floor, but his virtues never quite materialized. Consider this: Daye has recorded only one double-double in 206 career games, and it came on April 7, 2010. His career averages of 5.8 points on 40.9 percent shooting, 2.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.8 turnovers are uninspiring, and his 11.9 career PER is underwhelming, but there are reasons to believe that Daye is finally starting to hit his stride.
For starters, Daye has posted his highest True Shooting mark this season at 58.1 percent. He has bounced back from a dreadful three-point shooting year in 2011-12 (21.0 percent) by hitting 21 of 40 attempts from beyond the arc this year. That efficiency will regress a bit, but if Daye can stretch the floor by hitting threes he could earn a spot in the Grizzlies' rotation.
In 348 minutes with the Pistons this year, the team outscored opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions with Daye on the floor, and they were outscored by 5.7 pts / 100 poss when he hit the bench. That may be a statistical quirk, or it may be a small thing that John Hollinger and the Memphis front office noticed that could signal a change in Daye's value going forward.