The huge implications of Johnny Davis finally looking like a lottery pick

Johnny Davis of the Washington Wizards charges down the floor against the Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Johnny Davis of the Washington Wizards charges down the floor against the Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Throughout the season, the Washington Wizards have gathered an excess of criticism for their decision to draft Johnny Davis No. 10 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. It was not difficult to criticize the selection as general manager Tommy Sheppard does not have the greatest draft history., causing the selection to seem even worse than it actually was.

This criticism and fan outrage was worsened by the excellent play of the two players drafted immediately after him: Jalen Williams and Jalen Duren. Considering the fact that those two players have looked like future stars and the latter being the youngest player in the league while Davis has barely been able to crack the G League rotation at times this season, the criticism is not unwarranted.

Undrafted players have outperformed Davis this season, cracking rotational minutes on contending teams. This fact spurred the criticism of the young guard even further.

Since the Washington Wizards decided to shut down the starters, Johnny Davis has looked elite

Not only has his defense seemed elite, but Davis has also put-up career highs in points three games in a row. He saw a 16-point performance against the New York Knicks be immediately overshadowed by a 20-point outing against the Milwaukee Bucks. He then tied that career-high from the night before by scoring another 20 points against the Atlanta Hawks.

Davis is shooting 50 percent in that three-game stretch and is hitting 33.3 percent of his 3-point shots. While this is not a huge sample size, it is cause for optimism for any fans of the young Wizard. Since he joined the Wizards rotation nearly a month ago, he has but up double digit scoring numerous times and has clearly started to gain some confidence-an interesting development to say the least.

In that 12-game stretch, Johnny Davis is averaging 9.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in 23.1 minutes played per game. He also has seven blocks and six steals in this stretch. He is only shooting 43 percent from the floor and 25.6 percent from beyond the arc, nothing to brag about, but his defense more than makes up for his lack of efficiency.

The biggest contributors to this recent spurt of solid play from Johnny Davis has been the increased minutes and the touches that have come with it. On top of this, he is playing next to players like Corey Kispert and Daniel Gafford who have done a great job of keeping the defense off of him whether it be by spacing the floor or by having a dominant game in the post. This has helped him get better looks and he is converting on them.

He has established himself as one of the most versatile defenders on the Wizards roster alongside Deni Avdija and Delon Wright. He is capable of staying in front of any opposing player while also having quick reflexes and can rise up to snag a shot right out of the air.

While there hasn’t been much shown in his ability to move the ball, his strengths are on the defensive end and is typically used as a slasher on offense. This means he will likely not be in a position to be a playmaker that often.

Davis has even said that his goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle this summer, which would greatly help him on defense. It would even help him on offense as he would be able to finish through contact with much greater efficiency.

How does his development affect the Washington Wizards goals next season?

One of the biggest weaknesses of the Washington Wizards this season has been their complete lack of defense. They often had to choose between offense and defense with players like Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, and Bradley Beal on the roster. None of these players are able to translate their play to both sides of the floor.

Assuming the Wizards draft point guard Anthony Black from the University of Arkansas, a player who will be available where they are most likely going to land in the draft (somewhere from pick six to nine). They would have three elite defenders in the backcourt. This is a great improvement from their current roster which has two, but Davis almost never played until they were already out of the playoff picture.

If Davis is able to be a decent player on offense, something that doesn’t seem that far out of the question after the last three games, Wes Unseld Jr. would have multiple options next season. This could unlock the roster as the only option that the team had this year was score as many points as possible.

Davis could realistically score 10 points off the bench as a shooting guard who can switch over to a small ball 3. If he gets real spacing from players like Beal, Porzingis, and Kispert, he could be especially impactful. On top of that, adding a real point guard would unlock his finishing ability even further as a slasher.

Johnny Davis’s recent scoring stretch could be the key to the Washington Wizards goals next season. Never in anybody’s wildest dreams did that sentence make sense even a month ago. It will be incredibly interesting to see how he looks in his sophomore campaign.

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