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Let’s break down Johnny Davis’ NBA Draft stock

Davis is the best NBA prospect the Badgers have had since...Devin Harris?

Wisconsin v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

You all have watched the games this season. You’ve seen how good Johnny Davis has been. Well, you aren’t the only ones noticing the stellar sophomore from La Crosse. Davis has been rocketing up NBA Draft boards all season, with some having him as high as a top-five pick!

Recently, Evan Flood at Badger247 spoke to an Eastern Conference scout who had great things to say ($) and Jim Polzin at the Wisconsin State Journal talked to Davis’ dad and others about Johnny’s draft stock as well. Basically, this is the most hyped prospect the Badgers have had in men’s hoops in just about forever.

So, with that being said we wanted to ask some of the folks from #NBADraftTwitter to chime in with their thoughts on Davis. We reached out to Jake Rosen (@JakeInThePaint), a current UW student and Draft guru who writes for The Stepien, Mark Schindler (@MSchindlerNBA), who writes for Basketball News and Fear The Sword (SB Nation’s Cleveland Cavaliers site), and CJ Marchesani (@cjmarchesani) who is also a writer for The Stepien and is a scouting consultant as well.

Here are their answers to our questions!

Did you have any thoughts about Johnny Davis in high school or during his freshman year?

Jake: Johnny was viewed as an underrated recruit nationally. I thought he had the potential to be a multi-year NBA prospect eventually, but certainly didn’t see this coming. He showed flashes as a freshman and with Team USA this past summer, but has truly taken it to another level this year.

Mark: I wasn’t fully in tune with the draft and scouting until last year and in my viewings of Wisconsin, Davis showed interesting skills, but I didn’t see this jump coming in the slightest. To go from rotation player on a pretty average tournament team to a player of the year candidate is a wild growth curve.

CJ: Davis caught my eye as a freshman mostly from his work on the defensive end of the floor. Last year’s Wisconsin team really played through their seniors, and Davis earned minutes as a freshman by committing to the defensive side of the ball. My end of season models also flagged Johnny as one of the best returning freshmen in the class on a per minute basis, so he was very on my radar preparing for this season. I had high expectations coming into the year for a jump on the offensive end, but I don’t think anyone saw a Johnny Davis star turn happening quite this quickly and dramatically.

Now that he has fully burst onto the scene, where do you see Davis going in the 2022 NBA Draft?

Jake: I’m comfortable pegging Davis as a mid-late lottery pick in this year’s draft class. As long as his shot-making can hold up, and he can continue to make an impact defensively and make strides as a playmaker, that range seems right to me.

Mark: It’s hard for me to see Davis going anywhere outside of the top-10 right now. I don’t really agree with the notion that this draft is lacking in talent, and Davis bursting onto the scene and solidifying himself is no small part of my feelings.

Wisconsin v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

CJ: I think at this point it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Davis isn’t a lottery pick at the very least. He is one of the most productive players in the country as a sophomore, and seems to be hitting his stride and improving every game. At this point the question is more “how high can he rise in this class?”. I have him in the 7-9 range at the moment, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that he gets serious consideration as a top-five pick.

What skill does he need to improve to make a move to the next level?

Jake: In a utopian world, you’d love to see Johnny beat defenders more cleanly at the point of attack. It would put less pressure on his shot-making and enable him as a slasher. In the short term, I’d like to see him continue to increase his three-point volume.

Mark: He definitely needs to be more consistent in his shot preparation. He’s a good shooter and has shown his touch and quality off the dribble; improving his footwork and making his jumper and how he gets into it more routine is the next step for him in my eyes. Also, improving his passing reads and getting used to how defenses play him now. I’ve been fairly impressed with how he sees the court given his growth from last year, but he’s still adapting to his newfound gravity.

CJ: I would like to see Davis create for himself and his team more against a set offense. Wisconsin does a really fantastic job running sets to get him looks against tilted floors on the second side, and Davis attacks a closeout as well as anyone in college basketball. But from a prospect evaluation point of view I would selfishly love to see him be asked to run without the benefit of a schemed advantage to see how often he is able to create in those situations.

Davis also doesn’t get to the rim without a schemed advantage as often as I’d like. He leans on his pull-up jumper (for good reason), but again from an evaluation standpoint I’d like to see him beat defenders clean and create “power plays” off of paint touches a bit more than he does from a standstill.

What skill should he hang his hat on? What does he do best?

Jake: His shot-making. His touch is truly incredible from all over the floor and he is very creative in getting to his spot. Contests rarely bother him and this is his selling point.

Mark: I think his off-ball movement on top of his shot-making is what makes him such an enticing prospect and what he’ll lean into at the next level. His ability to navigate to his spots is what opens up secondary pick and roll opportunities and his shot-making is what forces teams to play him so tightly.

Wisconsin v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

It sounds rudimentary and very coach speak, but his defense is huge as well and if he maintains his level of defensive play and intensity, it makes it easier for a coaching staff to let him play through offensive mistakes/growth. His defense is really quite impressive.

CJ: Davis is a phenomenal shot maker. He can get to his mid-range jumper against basically anyone and it’s way more difficult to block than you’d expect from a 6’5” guard. He is doing a great job extending that shot to the three point line and punishing defenders for going under screens at the point of attack. His shot-making ability is the basis for a lot of his game - defenders have to close out on him hard or go over screens, which allows those schemed advantages to take place.

His defense has also remained impressive despite the offensive load he is carrying. Davis is a true two-way prospect that commits on both sides of the floor, which will only help his draft stock.

One word answer for this one: should Davis stay another year in college?

Jake: NO!

Mark: NoWayInHell

CJ: Nope.