Josh Robbins of The Athletic is continuing his series worth reading on the potential of young Wizards players. (subscription required) This time, he talked to four NBA scouts about the development of Wizards’ second-year guard Johnny Davis. After a challenging rookie season, Johnny Davis’ stock among NBA talent evaluators seems to have fallen significantly.
According to Robbins, “three of the four scouts now are less optimistic about Davis’ long-term potential than they were before the 2022 NBA Draft.” A consensus about his rookie season seems to be that his lack of confidence and assertiveness impacted his production. One of the scouts said:
"“He was different from what I viewed him (as) in college. In college, I think he was really competitive, really sure of himself, really assertive on the court. He got to his spots, and got to situations where he could be impactful and effective. He competed on both ends. And certainly early on (in the NBA), it just seemed like for whatever reason, he didn’t have that same level of confidence, and that impacted him overall.”"
However, those mental and psychological intangibles weren’t the only issue with Davis’ game. His ability to create space, finish inside the paint, and shoot left a lot to be desired. One talent evaluator said he is a different type of shooting guard as he doesn’t fit the modern archetype. He is “not a long-range, 3-point threat. He has decent size, but he’s not the most athletic, not the quickest guard.“ Therefore, the scout argues that Davis may need more time to adjust than a usual prospect.
Another scout pointed out his struggles as a freshman in college and used that as evidence that Davis takes time to “find his footing” and establish himself. There is some hope among one or two of the evaluators that he could eventually become “a guy who can make shots, straight-line drive, play in transition, and defend at a high enough level.” Names like Josh Hart and Norman Powell were mentioned as best-case scenarios for a player of Davis’ mold.
Even though that is still a possibility, most scouts don’t think that it is a probability. One talent evaluator was especially brutal about Davis’ prospects in the league.
"“To stick in the league, you’ve got to do something well. I’m not sure what he does well. He’s probably below-average athletically for a two (guard), he hasn’t shot it well. What does the guy do? You’ve got to do something. You’ve got to have some niche. I’m not sure what his niche is. I think the bottom line is he’s just not that talented.”"
Regardless of whether Davis can get there, there is a general feeling that the new front office will likely have less patience with Davis as they weren’t the ones who drafted him. The pressure will be on Davis this season to prove that he can be a part of this team going forward. How he will respond to this pressure will determine whether he can reach his potential.
Davis is still 21 years old. He is at the beginning of his NBA journey. There are plenty of forward steps he can take. However, talent evaluators seem to believe that being a high-end starter is no longer a possibility for him. He is going to be fighting for a chance to stick in the NBA, and let’s hope for both his and the Wizards’ sake that he wins that fight.