A look at the pros and cons of selecting Michigan State big man Deyonta Davis, who could be an option for the Utah Jazz with the No. 12 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Deyonta Davis may have been a lock as a Top 10 pick had he stayed in college for one more year. Even so, the super-athletic big man could find himself there in Thursday’s NBA Draft. He has excellent physical tools. At 6-foot-11 (in shoes) and 237 pounds, he has strong NBA measurements for a power forward.
Following his workout with the Utah Jazz, the former Spartan drew comparisons to Derrick Favors. Could he join Favors on the Jazz next season? If he’s still on the board at No. 12, there’s a distinct possibility.
Davis began his lone season with the Spartans playing behind senior Matt Costello and sophomore Javon Bess, before cracking the starting five in January. In just 18 minutes per game, he put up impressive numbers, averaging 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting 60 percent from the field.
He is young (19-years-old) and long with a seven-foot-two wingspan. He is athletic and is a quick leaper with a good second jump, which makes him a terrific rebounder.
- Defense — He is a defense-first player with an ability to protect the rim. He averaged over four blocks per 40 minutes last season. He’s also a good on-ball defender.
- Character — Davis is a high character kid, who rarely shows emotion and is focused on the job at hand.
- Rebounding — He tallied 4.6 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes as a college freshman. His quick leap, combined with length, makes him a good offensive rebounder. However, desire is what separates good ones from great ones. If he can keep a consistent motor on the boards, then he can be a beast on the glass.
- Improvable Post Game — He has an excellent turnaround on his left shoulders. However, that is pretty much his post game for now. This is an area that can be improved at the next level.
- Stretch Potential — He was inconsistent with the few jumpers he took in college, but has a smooth shot to make it happen. His form is solid; hand positioning on his jumpers is perfect and he has a nice spin on the ball. He did not take a single three-point shot this past season, though.
- Help Defense — While he is a solid on-ball defender, he could improve his help defense. Communication will be key in this regard; one Jazz writer noted that Davis makes Alec Burks looks talkative. Then again, if he ends up playing with studs like Favors and Rudy Gobert, he may not have to help out a lot.
- Motor — In watching him play at Michigan State, it became apparent that his motor can be a challenge sometimes. Jazz VP of player personnel Walt Perrin talked specifically about his energy level after his workout with the team.
- Limited Post Game — While he has a nice right-hand jump hook, he has not shown his left-handed game. He seems more comfortable with his right hand. He did not consistently show any spin moves or fadeaway jumper in the post.
- Foul Prone — He averaged over two fouls in just 18 minutes per game. He falls for pump fakes in the post. With his length, he should be able to make it difficult for opponents by going straight up. Favors was also foul prone in his early years as a pro. He learned verticality very quickly.
What He Could Be
How He Fits the Jazz
The Jazz love to switch on defense; they have a positional fluidity that is key to their defensive schemes. Davis could serve to enhance this aspect of the team’s defense in the frontcourt. His offensive potential also makes him an intriguing fit with the Jazz.
To me, there are no major red flags in his game. He is a safe bet and has fixable flaws, most of which are due to age. He might be the last good chance for the Jazz to grab a talented big man in the lottery. And, unless you’re Stephen Curry or Kyrie Irving, this is still a big man’s league.
Save for the potential of a trade up, down or out of their first round pick, the Utah Jazz own the 12th pick in 2016 NBA Draft.