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NBA Draft Profile: Johnny Davis

Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis brings a mix of throwback skills to today’s NBA.

Illinois State v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers’ forgettable 2021-22 season is in the books and it is time to turn our attention to the 2022 NBA Draft. Unlike recent years, Portland has multiple picks in this year’s process. After finishing the regular season with a 27-55 record, the Blazers enter the lottery draw with the sixth-best odds in the NBA. Buoyed by those odds, the Blazers are poised to exit the draft with the rights to a marquee prospect.

Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis is the subject of this profile. Davis shined during his second season with the Badgers as a do-it-all backcourt option.

Johnny Davis

  • Height: 6’5”
  • WT: 195
  • Shooting Hand: Right
  • Position: G
  • Age: 20
  • Projected draft range: 5-10
    *Not available at this time.

2021-22 Statistics

  • PTS: 19.7 | Per 40: 23.1
  • REB: 8.2 | Per 40: 9.6
  • STL: 1.2 | Per 40: 1.4
  • AST: 2.1 | Per 40: 2.5
  • FG%: 42.7
  • 3P%: 30.6
  • FT%: 79.1

Strengths

Davis might be the most complete backcourt player in the 2022 draft class. He is an elite defender in both on-ball and off-ball situations. In one-on-one matchups, Davis utilizes a perfect blend of footwork and strength to stymie opponents. He fights through screens effectively when chasing assignments off the ball. Davis has proven he can work through multiple actions to force contested shots. Even if he does get beat, his length and footwork allow him to recover quickly.

Inside the arc, Davis is an excellent rebounder for his size. Like his off-ball defense, Davis is constantly battling for position. Once he secures a defensive rebound, he is in position to initiate the next offensive possession.

Offensively, Davis is a bit of a throwback player. He gets to his spots through well-timed dribble moves and an understanding of angles. Davis is an expert at generating space against defenders of all sizes. On the perimeter, he has all the step-back and pull-up arsenal to create chances for himself. In catch-and-shoot situations, his accuracy is on par with other perimeter players in this draft class. Moving downhill, he shields the ball with his body and plays through contact. In the post, he has a developed set of post moves that is perfect for exploiting smaller defenders.

Davis did it all for Wisconsin as a sophomore. He is a burgeoning pick-and-roll operator in half-court sets and he is comfortable acting as the primary option. Defensively, he handled the toughest perimeter assignments. Most importantly, the Badgers turned to Davis in the biggest moments throughout the year.

Weaknesses

Davis’ biggest weaknesses are tied to his shot selection and lack of top-end burst. He took an excessive amount of tough shots in low-reward areas last season. Part of that was due to his role, but his penchant for contested midrange shots clearly impacted his efficiency. From distance, his three-point accuracy was propped up by his work in catch-and-shoot situations.

Inside the arc, Davis’ offense is built on timing and footwork. He will have to continue to refine his game at the next level in order to overcome his less-than-elite explosiveness. Defensively, Davis did allow elite athletes to get by him occasionally. Purdue guard Jaden Ivey drove past everyone last season, Davis was no exception.

2021-22 Season

Davis shined in his second season with the Badgers. With Davis at the helm, Wisconsin finished with a 25-8 record. In the NCAA Tournament, Davis registered 25 points in Wisconsin’s victory over Colgate in the opening round. In the next round, Iowa State’s smothering defense limited Davis to 17 points as Wisconsin exited the tournament.

Individually, Davis earned the Big Ten Player of the Year award and a spot on the Consensus All-American First Team.

Overall Assessment

Davis is a complete player that is poised to improve his efficiency in a reduced role at the next level. Even with limited improvement on the offensive end, Davis has the skills to blossom into an impactful two-way player. His feature role in college should translate nicely to reserve guard duties early in his career.

There are several aspects of Davis’ profile that you cannot teach. He is competitive in multiple areas on both ends of the floor. His ceiling might not be as high as other lottery options, but his floor is sturdy.

Overall Fit

Davis’ polished skill set should translate to early production in the NBA. On that front, his fit with the Blazers makes sense. However, Davis does not address a position of need. Even with a looming wingspan measurement that should come back favorable, Davis’ best fit is in the backcourt. Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Josh Hart are positioned to fulfill the majority of the available minutes at those spots.

Looking at the long-term picture, Davis is an interesting option. Once he is placed in a pro-style offensive scheme, Davis could surpass his current draft projection. His defensive prowess offers up the kind of two-way potential that the Blazers have lacked since Wesley Matthews departed. A future backcourt built around Simons and Davis would feature both size and versatility.