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MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – Deyonta Davis

MEMPHIS – Midway through a disappointing and injury-riddled season, the Grizzlies shifted their focus to development for the immediate future.

As a result, the final months of a 22-60 finish were dedicated to fast-tracking the growth and evaluation of rookies, second-year and third-year players on the roster, with contract decisions looming on many of them within the next couple of seasons.

While newcomers Dillon Brooks and Ivan Rabb appear to be steals from the second round of last year’s draft, the jury remains out on prospects such as Deyonta Davis and Wayne Selden. In either case, the Grizzlies missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years and head toward the May 15 Draft Lottery assured of no worse than a top-five pick in the June 21 NBA Draft.

The Grizzlies also have the second pick (No. 32 overall) in the second round and the full midlevel exception in free agency to upgrade the roster, address needs and chart a path back to the playoffs.

After starting Grind City Media’s ‘Offseason Outlook’ last week with my personal analysis of the coaching situation and roster veterans, we continue this week with a focus on young players the Grizzlies view as assets.

Player: Deyonta Davis, 21

Measurables: 6-11, 237 – 2nd NBA Season

2017-18 Stats: 5.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.6bpg in 15.2mpg, shot 60.8% (career-high, team-high) from the field.

Status: Due $1.5 million for 2018-19 salary in third season of a three-year contract.

Notable

Davis didn’t meet the NBA’s statistical minimums to qualify, but his field-goal percentage (60.8%) would’ve ranked fifth behind Clint Capela, DeAndre Jordan, Montrezl Harrell and Steven Adams.

Upside

As the old adage goes, “You don’t teach NBA size.” And at nearly 7 feet and 240 pounds, Davis has the physical foundation of a prototype professional center. He’s also almost automatic when the ball finds him operating within his wheelhouse slicing down the paint and at the rim. This past season, 196 of his 265 (72.8%) shot attempts came from within nine feet of the basket. He converted on 74.1-percent from between the blocks and restricted area, with majority of those finishes being either dunks or layups off lob passes. Project Davis’ production this season at a per 36-minute rate, and the second-year center would’ve averaged nearly 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks a game. There was modest improvement on the midrange jumper and face-up game of the roster’s lone true backup to Marc Gasol.

Downside

Those expecting a huge step forward for Davis were largely disappointed with his relatively meager progress in Year Two. Frankly, there were times Davis seemed disinterested in putting together consecutive strong possessions, let alone back-to-back compelling games. His unassertive demeanor on the court doesn’t inspire energy or confidence, and there were numerous instances this season when the coaching staff took Davis to task for his focus and work ethic. Davis has all of the tools, talent and timing to be a much better shot-blocker and rim protector than he showed, particularly late in the season when his minutes increased. Connecting all the dots will continue to be a challenge unless Davis takes a long look in the mirror as well as a motivated approach into the offseason to spark his career.

Bottom line

Davis has another guaranteed season on the contract he signed as a rookie in 2016 taken with the first pick of that draft’s second round. But make no mistake: this shapes up as a make-or-break summer for Davis. With DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Jaren Jackson Jr., Wendell Carter and Mo Bamba potentially on the June draft board, the Grizzlies could use their top-five lottery pick on any number of options to groom as Gasol’s next backup and eventual replacement. If that’s the case, Davis should take it personally, dominate offseason workouts and attack potential Summer League games trying to solidify his NBA future. After two seasons, it’s easy to see why Davis slipped from a potential late lottery pick to the second round. But it’s also difficult to completely give up on his size, youth and promise too soon.

Quoting Davis

The season was a lot of adversity, but we found a way to stick with it. That’s all we hope for, is our team staying healthy. Hopefully next year, we’ll get it right. If I would have put forth the effort to get as many minutes at the beginning of the year as I did at the end, I would have had a great year. I would have shown more. It’s just about trying to show them all I can do in the minutes that I’m given.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

by Michael Wallace | Grind City Media