(First posted at RealGM)
Davis started the season looking more like a 2017 prospect but flashed, little by little, bits of a tantalizing skill level – to go with a jaw dropping physical profile and this particular year, that’s enough for him to go in the lottery. Davis showed no ounce of consistency and didn’t dominate at all in the college level but he’s 19, so the team that drafts him will be hoping he can get it going a lot more as a pro – with Andre Drummond as a similar precedent.
Davis’ best asset on offense is playing around the basket.
He can play above the rim as a target for lobs; in transition, out of the pick-and-roll and spotting up in the dunker spot. Davis has soft hands to the catch the ball on the move and can explode off the ground, converting 71.3% of his 122 shots at the rim last season – according to hoop-math.
He was also an impact player on the glass, playing with pretty good physicality in pursuit of the ball, collecting 14% of Michigan State’s misses when he was on the floor – according to our stats database. More impressively, Davis proved himself able to elevate with power and transform many of those offensive rebounds into immediate putbacks.
On defense, that explosiveness translates in his ability to play above the rim as a shot blocker, not just coming off the weak-side as a help-defender but also elevating out of two feet protecting the front of the basket – erasing 10% of opponents’ attempts last season.
His biggest impact is defending close to the rim but he’s proven he’s not weakened when drawn away from the lane to defend face-up big men in isolation. Davis is very agile for someone his size, able to bend his knees and move his feet laterally very fluidly.
The problem is he’s not really any sort of an asset from a skill-level perspective at this point of his development.
Davis can get a decent seal in the mid-post area and flashed very appealing footwork for someone his age but struggles when crowded and with his touch when the opponent gets physical with him. That’s also the case on non-dunk finishes against length. And, despite the glimpses, he is not really a real jump-shooting threat as of now and he also hasn’t shown any instincts as a passer.
But more concerning, probably, is how much Davis looks lost in pick-and-roll defense and defending off the ball in general, to the point where it’s questionable how hard he plays on that end. Despite all his physical gifts, Davis collected just 19% of opponents’ misses last season – which is a disappointing mark when you consider the way he looks on the other glass.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara