Jonny Davis didn’t ditch the NBA draft Thursday for a toasted cheddar chalupa cover. Score one for the processors.
Washington’s first-round pick fits the Wizards’ genre since Tommy Shepard was in charge: hardworking worker, big program, high-profile games, high floor. But Davis’ ceiling, of course, is what we all care about. The Wizards—and Davis—believe in his up-trend, that the 6-foot-5 and 5 3/4-footed and American consensus guard is capable of scoring goals in three tiers, defending, and doing some maneuvering and rebounding. If he did all that, the wizards would have another good spinning bit to play alongside Bradley Beal.
But not many people I spoke to before Thursday’s draft thought Davis was/destined to become an NBA star. Good, maybe very good. But I didn’t hear “great” often. And as previously mentioned, the Wizards are in dire need of adding another star to play for Bale and Christaps Porzingis, after three straight years of dealing with tough players in the first round: Rui Hashimura, Denny Avdega and Cory Kispert.
The Wizards knew it was a draft in which they needed to make a big hit. They really tried to go from 10th to 4th, where Jaden Ivey is going to bring the kind of potential boom he’s been missing for so long. But Sacramento asked more than Washington, or any other team, was willing to give up some points. As it turns out, the Kings didn’t take Ivy, opting for Iowa’s Keegan Murray, another Wizards favourite, leaving Ivy to go to Detroit, where the beaming Pistons would put him with Cady Cunningham in their backyard over the next decade or so. (And if they add the Suns center for restricted free agent Deandre Ayton…what did Klay Thompson say last week? Holy Cannoli.)
– Washington Wizards June 24, 2022
Two high-ceilinged players went before Washington picked 10th guard Dyson Daniels, of J-League Ignite, who went eighth to New Orleans, and forward Jeremy Suchan, who went ninth to San Antonio. Each project provides the kind of long-end, transformable defense that wizards desperately need. (You know I love me some of Sushan.) But there is no doubt. And Davis wasn’t Wisconsin’s top scorer, playing in the rugged Big Ten, earning eight plates a game and winning the Conference Player of the Year award without much help. This type of production project to be a real contributor to the next level.
Look what Davis did on the road last season: 24 and 7 at Ohio State, 37 and 14 (!!) at Purdue (and against Ivey), 25 and 6 at Michigan State, 30 and 12 at Indiana. This is the sign of a man who rises to the occasion when there is a target on his back.
“Being at the helm of someone’s scouting report, I take it as a sign that I’m doing something right,” Davis said in a video conference after the draft. “With this comes a lot of interest for me. If it ever happened in the league, I think I would make plays for my teammates more.”
If Davis has another small growth spurt in the next year or two and the start three are here in a couple of years, he’ll be in line with the Wizards’ schedule. And of course, he may be the team’s second goalkeeper in the future. And he cares about the other end of the earth, too. Washington needs tampons, sure, but it would be nice to have someone with no defensive voice in the E. Witches need as many hard-minded people in their locker room as they can carry. (Washington’s second-team player, Yannick Nzoza, 18, is a player from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who plays for Unicaja Malaga of the ACB League, and remains one of the best basketball leagues in the world outside of the NBA.)
Sheppard said of Davis: “The talent is there, and that’s what we’re excited about. With the 10th pick, I think he’s someone we can add to this team who will be a very big contributor very quickly.”
And Davis likely has more in his bag than he’s allowed to display in Wisconsin.
There are other shoes to drop. Who will be the starting point guard? Doubt would be Davis. I’ve heard in the last couple of days, as has my colleague Josh Robbins, that Washington has Denver’s Mount Morris on a short list of potential rangers to get them through the trade, and that would make a lot of sense. Morris became a key player for the Nuggets last season as Jamal Murray rehabilitated in a tattered AFC Champions League, and cleared himself well, shooting nearly 40 percent in 3 seconds and averaging 12.6 points per game in 30 minutes a night. . He’s not a point guard to score first, as Spencer Dinwiddy was, but only a handful of point guards who have shot wide is 42.1 percent better than Morris in 3 seconds to catch and capture last season. Apparently Wes Unseld Jr. Familiar to him, given their days together in Denver.
And 26-year-old Morris would be more economically acceptable to the Wizards than, say, Malcolm Brugdon in Indiana. Brogdon has three years and $67 million left on his current deal; Morris has two sums and $17.9 million. The team that’s about to give Bale the full bag — and owes Porzingis about $70 million through 2024 and has any intention/hope of re-signing Kyle Kuzma when he (most likely) arrives at free agency next summer — needs someone in the starting lineup. t break the bank. But tango takes two people. Does Denver want, say, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or other Wiz men, for Morris?
(Don’t ask me about Kevin Durant. Do. No.)
One thing at a time for these witches, though, on Thursday they added someone who could do a little bit of everything. And if Davis finally brought little Caron Butler, another tenth pick from back in the day, to the party, it was a productive evening.
(Photo: Jeff Hansch/USA Today)