The NBA draft came to a close yesterday, with surprise picks like Paolo Banchero going #1 overall to the Orlando Magic and Keegan Murray being selected at #4 instead of Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. The Washington Wizards had two picks in the draft, at #10 and #54. There was talk that Washington would be involving its pick in trade negotiations, but they ended up selecting at #10, picking up Johnny Davis, a 6’5” combo guard out of Wisconsin.
We at WizofAwes decided to look into Davis’ and Nzosa’s game and determine what their fit might be on this Washington roster, which may be subject to change as the offseason progresses towards free agency.
Wizards Draft Pick: Johnny Davis
The Wizards were in need of a few things going into this offseason (which, remember, has only just begun). Those things included defense, particularly on the perimeter, three-point shooting and a viable point guard going into next season. With Davis, they managed to check 1.5 of those boxes.
Davis will be a legitimately good defender in the NBA, with a college tape full of steals from jumping passing lanes, and blocks at the rim after rotating over from the weak side. He’s quick, smart and has decent length. Other than Deni Avdija, who notably became a solid defender this last season, Davis may very well be the Wizards’ best perimeter defender on day one, adding to a roster which had the 6th-worst defensive rating in the NBA last season. With Porzingis and Gafford prowling in the paint, the addition of a plus perimeter defender to this Wizards roster (who isn’t an offensive liability) is a welcome one.
What you don’t get with Davis, however, is a reliable three-point threat to pair with Beal in the Washington backcourt — at least not yet.
Davis shot an impressive 38.9% from deep in his first season at Wisconsin, but that was on a measly 0.5 attempts per game. When he bumped that number up to 3.9 attempts as he became the focal point of the Wisconsin offense this year, he regressed significantly. Davis shot just a hair over 30% from three this season. That can largely be attributed to his high usage rate and need to take a high volume of those shots within the Wisconsin offense, Davis told reporters on draft night, but it’s a serious blemish on his otherwise impressive resume.
Davis’ shot mechanics look strong, and his reasonable free throw percentage at 79.1% last year is a good sign that he may be able to improve his efficiency from deep with time and adjustments to the Wizards’ system. It’s also important to note that many of Davis’ three-point attempts likely came off the dribble, generating his own show, whereas he will be the beneficiary of considerably more open, catch-and-shoot three-point looks when on the floor with players like Beal and Porzingis.
Finally, Davis provides an interesting solution (or just another dilemma?) to the Wizards’ point guard vacancy. Though Davis spent most of his minutes as a 3 for Wisconsin, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard seems to think he may be a viable option as the Wizards’ lead guard, though prior to the draft he told reporters he didn’t expect a point guard coming out of this draft class to be starting — at least not immediately.
At 6’5”, Davis is a good size for a modern NBA guard, but undersized for a wing. He didn’t exhibit great playmaking prowess at Wisconsin, but then again, he wasn’t surrounded by a lot of talent. If the Wizards offense ends up being as heliocentric around the Beal/Porzingis combo as I believe it will be, then the need for a ‘pure’ point guard becomes less urgent. In that case, Washington won’t need to rely on Davis to spoon feed teammates, just to generate rim pressure and find the open kick-out option. That, he might be able to handle.
Without a reliable outside jumper and having done most of his scoring last year (19.7 points per game) as the primary option, it’ll be interesting to see how Davis fits into an offense he is a background scorer. Davis will have to learn to find points elsewhere, scoring efficiently on cuts, offensive rebounds or drives to the rim.
Ambidextrous finishing. According to Todd Whitehead of synergy sports, Davis was the most ambidextrous finisher in this year’s draft class, attempting 40% of his layups with his left hand, finishing 44% of them compared to attempting 60% with his right hand, finishing 57% of them.
Both Sheppard and Beal have mentioned wanting to add big guards that can get two feet in the paint as a major need for this Wizards roster, well Davis fits that mold perfectly.
Wizards Draft Pick: Yannick Nzosa
With the 54th pick, the Wizards selected Yannick Nzosa, an 18-year old Congolese center who plays for Spanish club Málaga. Nzosa played just over 10 minutes per game in each of his two seasons with Málaga, averaging 2.2 points, 2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in that limited playing time.
While currently Nzosa is an offensively stunted player (only really efficient on dunks), he shines on defense, being called one of the best defensive players in the draft by some analysts.
At 6’11”, with a reported wingspan of 7’6”, Nzosa has an ability to block and alter shots at the rim, using his long arms and height to force adjustments from the offensive player, but also has the mobility to stick with speedier guards and wings, able to recover at make a play on the ball at the rim.
At only 18, Nzosa has plenty of room to grow, and the Wizards likely see him as a development player behind their current center roster of Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford.