NBA Draft Profile: Deyonta Davis

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Deyonta Davis – 6’10” power forward, Michigan State University, 19-years-old

If you ask Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo, freshman forward Deyonta Davis wasn’t viewed as a one-and-done college player. More accurately, he was viewed as a raw project with skills yet to develop.

So when Davis opted to enter this year’s NBA Draft, it was definitely a surprise in East Lansing, Michigan. Instead of discovering his game under Izzo’s capable tutelage, Davis will go the route of on-the-job training. Though he currently lacks polish on the offensive end of the floor, Davis showed enough promise defensively—and as an overall athlete—to warrant lottery consideration in the upcoming draft, to be held June 23 in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

In his lone season as a Spartan, Davis became increasingly productive over the course of 35 games played, averaging 18.6 minutes while coming off the bench. He averaged 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and shot 59.8 percent from the field. As part of a deep Michigan State frontcourt and not a focal point of the offense, he averaged less than six shot attempts a game.

Playing primarily behind All-Big Ten performer Matt Costello, Davis eventually became an important part of a Spartans team that finished the season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, posted a 29-6 record, and won the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. As well as they played, however, the season came to an unexpectedly quick end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, where they were upset by 15-seed Middle Tennessee in the Midwest Region.

Strengths

At 6-foot-10 and 237 pounds, Davis is a raw 19-year-old project for whichever team drafts him in Brooklyn. But he brings considerable upside to the table, and could develop into an elite defender down the road as either a power forward or center. He is an outstanding athlete who can run the floor with quickness and play strong interior defense, whether it’s cleaning the glass or using his 7-foot-2 wingspan to affect opposing shooters. His 72 offensive rebounds ranked seventh in the Big Ten. He has shown good enough footwork to be able to defend other post players or switch onto guards when the situation arises. He is nothing short of a project at the offensive end, but Davis has shown the potential to become a reliable shooter, though his sample size was limited due to a lack of touches throughout the season. He is already a capable scorer inside when it comes to shots such as layups, dunks and second-chance shots from close range. He posted a True Shooting percentage of 61.1 last season. Even more intriguing, Davis hinted during interviews at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago that he can shoot all the way from 3-point range, but he wasn’t able to show it at Michigan State. He has been working on his complete game, including improving his ball handling skills, at the P3 facility in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Weaknesses

As a one-and-done player with a ton of raw talent, Davis’ ceiling is currently unknown. He showed flashes of serious pro potential as a Spartan, but those flashes were mostly on defense. He shot 59 percent on two-pointers, but the vast majority of those shots were from point-blank range. He shot less than 50 percent on jumper attempts. He also is not a very good free throw shooter, as he finished the season at 60.5 percent. While a great athlete, Davis has yet to develop any go-to post moves, and may struggle to get himself good looks against opposing big men. At 237 pounds, he will need to put on some muscle to deal with the night-to-night grind of playing in the post in the NBA.

NBA Potential

Since declaring for the draft, Davis has been penciled in as a lottery pick, going anywhere from No. 9 to No. 20. The consensus in most mock drafts is that he will be picked in the teens. He could be an attractive option for Toronto at No. 9, as the Raptors will have several free agent decisions to make. Other potential landing spots include Phoenix at No. 13, Chicago at No. 14, Memphis at No. 17, Denver at No. 19 and Indiana at No. 20. All will potentially be in need of post help by this summer, and teams like the Suns and Nuggets are still rebuilding and will have the time and space to develop young players. Davis could crack his new team’s rotation off the bench as a rookie, as his athleticism, finishing ability and defensive prowess will make him useful right away. In order to become a key rotation player one day, he will need to develop some more reliable offense.

NBA Player Comparison

Davis has drawn comparisons to bigs such as Atlanta Hawks Al Horford, Portland Trail Blazers Ed Davis and the Utah Jazz Derrick Favors.

Keep a look out for Deyonta Davis on draft night, and be sure to keep yourself updated with our complete coverage of the 2016 NBA Draft.

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