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NBA Draft Scouting: Johnny Davis

Davis is a crafty guard who would bring a scoring punch to the Thunder

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK


Height - 6’5

Weight - 196 lbs

Wingspan - 6’8

Johnny Davis had a huge break-out year in his sophomore season and made a serious case for being the best player in college basketball. Davis ended up being a consensus first team All-American and the Big Ten Player of the Year. He carried a rebuilding Wisconsin programme on his back to the top of their division and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Davis is an elite scoring guard but his skill-set differs greatly to his contemporaries. Players such as Shaedon Sharpe or Jaden Hardy have built their games around knocking down outside jumpers and attacking the basket. They play ‘outside-in’ with the deep jumper unlocking opposing defenses. Johnny Davis does not rely on the 3-pointer and is often happier to step inside the arc for a long two.

Unlike the two players listed above, Johnny Davis is a polished three-level scorer who lives in the mid-range. Davis forgoes outside jumpers for his preferred non-painted area and it is not difficult to see why.

His pull-up jumper is filthy and he has shown an ability to get that shot off against tight, contested defense. Coaches would switch their big onto Davis and have the big man face guard Johnny closely as a way of pressuring him into a mistake. Davis would simply step sideways and knock down an open jumper.

Davis’ shot form is almost textbook. There is little pre-load and at times, Davis seems to hop into his jumper with both feet. He generates the upward thrust with that dip which then allows him to release the ball quickly. Davis has a fast, smooth jumper that is reliable against good defense.

Davis is not an exceptional athlete who can simply detonate within three feet of the rim but he is able to compensate for this weakness by finishing smartly in this shooting zone. Davis is not afraid of using his thick frame to bump defenders and create shooting windows for himself.

The other interesting point to note about Davis’ game is his usage of the post-up. Coach Greg Gard would regularly run actions that were designed to get Davis down into the post against a favourable match-up.

Johnny was surprisingly proficient in this sort of set and used his clean, sharp footwork to ease past the defense. It was not uncommon to see Davis spin past his defender and finish with a banked layup. His fadeaway jumper also acts a counter on the block if a help defender comes middle and doubles Davis.

His 3-point jumper is the weakest aspect of his scoring game. Davis turns down open jumpers and will step inside for long twos. One dribble pull-ups are not necessarily a bad shot but it can cramp spacing for his teammates. The opposing team can sit back comfortably in a drop coverage if they know Davis is reticent to let it fly from downtown.

Davis should be encouraged to be a little less selective with his shots and embrace the outside jumper as it will make much harder for defenses to guard him. Opposing teams cannot afford to leave good shooters open and have to play the perimeter player straight up.

I am aware that Davis’ 3-point percentage last season, 30%, was quite inefficient but I would argue that there is context to consider regarding his shooting. Davis played on a team where he carried a heavy scoring load and he was the top name on the scouting report for a lot of opposing teams.

Other teams will not be able to key in on him so much if he has Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey for teammates. Davis will have more space and time to focus on draining shots from deep.

Davis is also a skilled ball-handler in pick and roll situations. He times his passes well and puts the big into good scoring opportunities. Davis is also quick to use the screen to separate from his defender and attack the basket.

Defensively, Johnny Davis is a competent player. He is not the biggest player on defense and may struggle to guard bigger guards at the NBA level but Davis is relentless on the less glamorous end of the floor. He rarely allows his assignment a moment of peace and contests everything. His activity is best indicated by the fact that Davis averaged 1.9 stocks per game last season.

Johnny Davis would be an excellent selection at 12 if he falls that far. Davis’ scoring and defense would add another dimension to the Thunder’s group of ball-handlers.